SACRAMENTO — The California Legislature is formally asking President Clinton and the Congress to take a hard look at the state’s film industry losses to foreign countries — and to promote legislation that would stop the drain of dollars.
The measure, a joint resolution authored by Assemblyman George Runner (R-Palmdale) passed the Assembly unanimously in July and galloped through the state Senate on Monday on a 35-1 vote. Only Sen. Patrick Johnston (R-Stockton) voted no.
“We cannot allow an industry as important to our economy as the film industry to slip through our fingers without a fight,” said Runner, who accused Canada of “pilfering” American business.
The resolution, AJR 23, asks Washington to:
- Evaluate the problems caused by relocation of film industry business abroad.
- Evaluate current tax incentives provided to the industry.
- Promote trade-boosting legislation that will persuade filmmakers to remain in California.
The legislative analysis of the resolution notes that the film industry generates a $12 billion annual payroll in California, creating 600,000 jobs. Since 1998, however, tax breaks and favorable currency exchange rates have drawn production companies to Canada and other foreign countries.
In the past two years, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., the county has lost 11,000 jobs due to the flight of film production across the border. By the end of 1999, 11,400 more jobs are projected to be lost.
More than half of all television movies for the U.S. market are now shot in Canada, according to the Motion Picture Assn. of America.