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Lights, cameras, tax breaks! PA House OKs more subsidies for Hollywood

Pennsylvania lawmakers will soon be racing to fill a budget deficit that could top $1 billion in the next fiscal year, but there’s still a glimmer of hope the financial news won’t be all bad, at least if you’re M. Night Shyamalan or another Hollywood filmmaker that likes to shoot movies in the Keystone State.

Legislation to allow the state to dole out about $22.5 million in unused tax breaks for filmmakers cleared the state House last week, passing 180-21 despite the looming financial quandary.

State Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, voted against the bill, which would tweak the incentive used to lure Hollywood filmmakers to Pennsylvania. It’s difficult to justify the perk after the bleak fiscal picture was discussed in caucus last week, he said.

“We need to find a billion dollars somewhere, and sending $22.5 million out the door for a film tax credit, I just don’t see that as a priority right now,” Stephens said.

Sponsored by state Rep. Jerry Stern, R-Blair, the legislation wouldn’t increase the $60 million annual cap on the tax credit, but rather draw upon instances in which authorized credits are not awarded — perhaps because production wasn’t completed, expenses fell below estimates or companies don’t pass an audit.

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