Many state lawmakers who gleefully have given billions of dollars in tax credits to the natural gas industry and its derivatives are far more suspicious of state tax credits for film production because ... well, you know, Hollywood.

But in terms of state incentives, the difference between the two industries is that the gas industry is in Pennsylvania because the gas is here, whereas most film projects can be produced anywhere.

Film incentives truly help to make the state competitive.

And in 2019, the state’s nonpartisan Independent Fiscal Office reviewed the existing Film Production Tax Credit program. IFO director Matthew Knittel told lawmakers that the credit produced “a net economic gain” for the commonwealth.

Under the program, a production is eligible for a 25% state tax credit if at least 60% of its total production budget is spent in Pennsylvania. It covers feature and television films, television talk or game show series, television commercials, TV pilots or each episode of a television series intended as programming for a national audience.

The Pennsylvania Film Office, which administers the program, lists at least 36 major movies that have been made in Pennsylvania over the past 12 years, with assistance from the tax credit. The films include “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Foxcatcher,” “The Fault of Our Stars,” “Jack Reacher” and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”

Even so, Democratic state Rep. Joe Ciresi of Montgomery County and Republican Rep. Kathleen Tomlinson of Bucks County say that the state loses many productions every year to other states because the film production tax credit is capped at $70 million.

They have introduced a bill to increase the tax credit, renaming it the Film Industry Incentive, to $125 million a year.

Lawmakers should seize the opportunity to keep Pennsylvania competitive in seeking film productions that boost local and state economies.

— Republican & Herald, Pottsville/TNS