Keeping the hit Lifetime drama "Army Wives" filming in Charleston could come down to a Senate vote in the next day or so.
Gov. Mark Sanford's vetoes include a proviso that keeps film incentives at 20 percent for South Carolina residents' wages and 30 percent for supplies purchased from in-state businesses. Sanford's reason for axing it: the proviso raised the rates from 15 percent for each rebate and, in doing so, changed state law and violated legislative rules.
Plus, "we should not be increasing the incentives we give to Hollywood film companies in a year when we're making such drastic cuts to core government functions," the governor wrote in his veto explanation.
In a letter to lawmakers, "Army Wives" representatives wrote that the series has contributed more than $120 million in production costs to the local economy since it landed in Charleston in 2006. Just this year, in filming the fourth season, the show hired 355 employees and 1,101 extras and paid more than $19 million in salaries and wages, the letter states. Four lead actors and 11 crew members also have purchased homes in South Carolina.
But if the veto holds, that all could go away, according to unit production manager Barbara D'Alessandro.
"It would be a possibility that we would have to move our project out of state," she said Monday. "The difference in incentives is significant."
D'Alessandro said when "Army Wives" chose to film in Charleston, the decision came with a six-year plan based on incentives of 20 percent for wages and 30 percent for supplies.
The House overrode the governor's veto, but if the Senate sustains it, the cuts to the incentives stand.
Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell, a Charleston Republican and film proponent, said the industry returns tax dollars and generates positive and wide-reaching publicity for the state.
"The film incentives are a relatively small amount of money that delivers a very large return," he said.
The Senate will vote today or Wednesday.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or email@example.com.