Last year, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said during his State of the State address in Hollywood that California was reversing the trend of film productions leaving for other states.
One year later in the same room at Paramount Studios, de León told the chamber of commerce that Hollywood will maintain its status as the entertainment capital of the world.
“With the sheer scale of our commitment to the industry, we are outpacing states like North Carolina as well as Florida. And by the way, those states have dropped their (film incentive) programs after we overhauled ours in California. We’ve weathered a global financial crisis and come back even stronger than before.”
De León explained how California has one of the strongest economies in the world and how Hollywood plays a big role in making that happen. In the first full year since the state revised its film-TV tax credit programs, more than $230 million in tax credits went to 55 projects, contributing $1.5 billion in direct in-state spending, according to de León. That includes $600 million in wages for nearly 15,000 “below-the-line” cast and crew members.
In the latest round of allocations this year, 28 film projects were selected by the California Film Commission. They share $109 million in tax credits and are anticipated to generate $880 million in in-state spending, with more than $326 million in wages for 5,900 cast and crew members.
“These are good-paying jobs we are bringing back and keeping in our state,” de León said. “Several projects, for example, here on this campus, ‘Friday the 13th’ will take place right here on Paramount Studios.
With the Olympics in full swing, de León said he was encouraged and optimistic that the Games will come to Los Angeles in 2024. He introduced a bill in March to secure approximately $250 million for the “Olympic Games Trust Fund” to help cover potential cost overruns and help alleviate financial risk of being host.
“The Olympic Games will allow us to showcase our city, and are expected to bring significant benefits to Los Angeles and Southern California,” he said. “We feel incredibly confident that the protections set in place will ensure another successful and profitable Olympics.”
As Hollywood is the entertainment capital, so is Los Angeles the homeless capital of the entire nation, the state Senate leader said, adding that 40 percent of California’s homeless population live in Los Angeles County.
“This is a fundamental economic, public health and public safety issue,” he said. “And it is becoming costlier.”
De León said the city of Los Angeles spent more $100 million dealing with the homeless population last year, but he clarified that money wasn’t spent on medical services or housing.
“It was $100 million on 911 LAPD calls, paramedic calls as well as fire department calls,” he said.
He also credited the Legislature and Governor Jerry Brown for taking the issue of homelessness head on with the passage of the “No Place Like Home” initiative to generate $2 billion to house the chronically homeless.
De León also took a stance on the polarizing political battle in Los Angeles between “NIMBYs” and pro-development advocates. He said he wants to work closely with Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council to bring balance, affordability and accessibility to address the housing crisis.
“When we come back home to Los Angeles and we want to build housing and we want to build it vertical, then all of the sudden it’s like, ‘No, you can’t do that. You need to stop that because that may obstruct my view,’ you know? And I don’t know if ‘views’ right now are a human civil right.”
De León said he’s opposed to the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative – the proposed ballot measure that would put a two-year moratorium on development that does not comply with the city’s General Plan. He suggested that the issues of affordability and housing can be addressed with rational conversation and legislation instead.
“We all need to sit in the same room together,” he said. “We cannot use litigation as a continuous weapon with the ballot initiative.”
De León concluded that the state of the state is “strong, very strong.”
“The nation looks to California for leadership on so many issues, from our pioneering policies on climate change and gun control to our private sector innovation,” he said.
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