Teamsters Local 727 Opposes Bill That Jeopardizes Illinois' Film Industry

Mar 21, 2011, 11:13 ET from Teamsters Local 727

Senate Bill 4 Puts State Film Tax Credit Program in Question

CHICAGO, March 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Teamsters Local 727, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the Illinois Production Alliance have joined forces to fight a bill that would severely impact Illinois' booming film industry.

Senate Bill 4, as amended by the House, imposes a five-year "sunset clause" for the Illinois Film Tax Credit program. It also makes changes to an existing law as it applies to the Illinois Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Tax Credit in order to retain specific Illinois companies.

"We're looking at missing out on hundreds of jobs for our hardworking members and millions of dollars for our great state," said John T. Coli, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 727, which represents hundreds of workers in the movie industry. "You can have periodic reviews in a way that doesn't jeopardize projects."

The bill passed the House 90-20 on March 17, 2011. It now goes back to the Senate, which would have to approve the amendments on their bill.

The Illinois Film Tax Credit program provides for a 30 percent tax credit based on Illinois Production Spending, plus an additional 15 percent tax credit based on Illinois labor expenditures generated by the employment of residents from areas with high poverty or unemployment rates. Illinois Production Spending means the expenses incurred for an accredited production from final script stage through post-production.

The sunset clause would require the legislature to re-approve the tax credit every five years.

"These productions cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Even a little uncertainty can greatly diminish our attractiveness," Coli said. "Film productions, particularly television series, require a minimum of two years of planning before filming ever begins. If the tax credit comes into question, production companies will simply take their projects elsewhere."

In 2008, the Teamsters were successful in their fight to have the tax credit sunset clause removed, and since that time, Illinois' film industry has seen substantial growth. Dozens of movies, TV shows and commercials have come to Chicago, and as a result, Chicago Film Studios is building a studio on Chicago's west side that will become the largest North American soundstage outside of Los Angeles.

"When you couple the tax credit with our infrastructure of experienced workers, breathtaking scenery and a new multi-million dollar film studio, Chicago has become an ideal place for production companies to film their projects," Coli said. "Even in a down economy, the film business has been booming here, and we have more members working than ever before. This bill would put our members' livelihoods in jeopardy, and that is something we absolutely cannot stand for."

Teamsters Local 727 represents more than 6,000 hardworking men and women in the Chicago area.

SOURCE Teamsters Local 727