LIVERMORE — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should not count on $7 billion in additional federal tax dollars to help close the state's budget gap, nor should he tie new oil-drilling revenue to state parks, Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner said Monday.
The state insurance commissioner, who spent an hour pitching his campaign platform to the Livermore Chamber of Commerce, agreed California doesn't get back enough of the tax dollars it sends to Washington, but that problem seems intractable at least in the short term. "I'm not going to put together my budget plan based on something that hasn't materialized for decades."
And while he agrees with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that there's a need for new, ecologically sensitive oil drilling off the Santa Barbara coast, he wouldn't use that money to bankroll the state park system he said.
Instead, he told business leaders, he proposes an immediate and complete freeze on all state spending and hiring.
He then wants to cut spending by 10 percent, although in a targeted way because "this notion of across-the-board cutting is a mistake," he said; for example, he said he would cut welfare by reworking the benefit structure and by stepping up enforcement of the work rules, something he called "an issue of desire and will, not an issue of manpower."
Poizner also explained his tax-cut plan — 10 percent cuts in personal income, corporate and sales taxes, and a 50 percent cut in the capital gains tax — which he claims will combine with eased regulations and tort reform to jump-start the economy and grow the state out of its deficit.
He called the imminent closure of the NUMMI plant in nearby Fremont "just terrible," and noted how lawmakers scrambled to offer tax breaks to keep the plant open. "Well, where were they 10 years ago?"
Taking questions from almost 20 business owners, Poizner said "we absolutely need to secure our borders" for both national security and economic reasons. If the federal government won't do it, he would send the California National Guard and the California Highway Patrol, he said, while "turning off the magnets" that attract illegal immigration — jobs, health care, education and social services. He said he also would explore ways the state could withhold funding from, or otherwise punish, "sanctuary cities" protecting those who immigrate illegally.
And although he's not "anti-union," he said, he favors reining in public-employee unions' political clout through a proposed ballot measure that would bar them from using member dues or nonmember fees for political purposes unless the worker gives written consent each year.