- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Nevada Sen. Aaron Ford said a film tax credit program launched a year ago has helped attract nine TV shows and films and more than $69 million in spending to the state.

Ford argued that the state needs to continue the effort.

The Senate Revenue Committee on Friday reviewed SB94, a bill that would fix some of the administrative kinks in the current law and help restore the program after it was gutted during Nevada’s effort to attract electric carmaker Tesla.

“What you’ve seen … is a nice chunk of change that we otherwise would not have had,” said Ford, a Democrat and the bill’s sponsor. “We’re very proud of the progress we’ve made.”

Opponents pointed to other states that have scrapped their film tax credit programs because they have underperformed. Opponents said they thought Nevada’s landscapes and the iconic Las Vegas Strip could attract films on their own merits without handouts from the state.

“We’ll still get the film companies,” said Adam Kilbourn, who owns Black Raven Films in Las Vegas and described the program as corporate favoritism. “We don’t need to give them cash to do it.”

The bill would remove a cap that limits the state to awarding $10 million over the four years of the program, and it would allow the Legislature to adjust that number. The number was previously $80 million before the state reduced it in September to provide incentives to the electric car maker.

It would also remove a provision that would end the program after four years and create more incentives for hiring Nevadans as part of the cast and crew.

The bill does not specify how much money the state should apply to the program, although a separate bill being crafted by Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton would deal with the financial details, Ford said.

Ford led the charge to create the program during the 2013 legislative session, and movie star Nicolas Cage showed up to testify in favor of a bill that spring.

The bill passed with mixed support. Republican Sen. Greg Brower, one of several opponents, said he thought it was bad tax policy and argued that film tax credits rarely live up to high expectations.

The program’s first recipient was Sony Pictures, which received $4.3 million in credits to produce the movie “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.”

Ford said eight other productions have also chosen Nevada in the past year, including the Yahoo TV series “Sin City Saints” and a Nicolas Cage film called “The Trust.”

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