Sounding more like Bill Clinton than Sarah Palin, Meg Whitman, a Republican candidate for governor in the June 2010 primary, Tuesday night called for vast economic reforms in California. Whitman’s speech was sponsored by the Commonwealth Club of California.
Whitman, the founder and former chief executive officer of E-Bay, the online auction site, said that, if elected, she would make a major effort to create and keep jobs in California.
Speaking at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall in Lafayette, Whitman pledged to rein in state spending and to address the quality of schooling from kindergarten through the 12th grade.
Appearing before a sold-out crowd of several hundred people, Whitman said that she would put a moratorium on business regulations. She also said she wanted targeted tax relief for commercial enterprises.
Whitman said she could reduce, by $15 billion, California’s current financial deficit, which is projected to be $20 billion for the fiscal year ending on June 30.
Whitman, a billionaire, said that California has to “stand up and compete” with states like Colorado, Texas, Nevada, and Utah. California’s economic climate is currently losing jobs to other states, she said.
She criticized the cost of doing business in California. That cost, she said, is 17 percent higher than in other states.
In the field of education, Whitman called for paying more money to good teachers and increasing the number of charter schools, which are public schools permitted to compete with existing public schools. She also called for lifting the state’s cap on the number of charter schools.
In the area of higher education, Whitman said that California cannot compromise on the quality of the University of California system. She promised to fund the system fully.
The former E-Bay executive called the California Legislature a “bill factory” and said that property taxes or other taxes should not be raised.
Whitman’s speech made no reference to divisive social issues like abortion or school prayer. The tone of her speech was decidedly centrist.
Born on Long Island, New York, in 1956, Whitman did her undergraduate studies at Princeton University. Later, she received a masters of business administration from Harvard University. She is married to a neurosurgeon and has two adult sons.