Staking a claim as the candidate of substance and specificity, wannabe Republican governor Tom Campbell Sunday night released a 3,131 word proposal detailing how he would deal with the state’s budget mess.
The moderate Campbell faces an uphill fight against party rivals Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner, two candidates who are expected to be far better funded and who are competing with each other to run to the political right to pander, er, um, woo the very conservative GOP primary electorate. His calculation in setting out an extremely specific budget plan, always a problematic campaign play that can trap a candidate in his own numbers, is that it positions him to challenge and scoff at the tough talk of Whitman and Poizner as empty rhetoric that does not stack up to his straight-talking, real world proposals.
“I challenge anyone who wishes to lead our state out of this crisis to offer at least as much detail as I have,” Campbell said in the statement posted on his web site. “This is not a time for vague generalities, or declaring anything off limits.”
Although similar in many ways to Governor Schwarzenegger’s most recent proposals, Campbell’s term paper is notable in:
- Calling for a 15 percent salary giveback from state employees, for a savings of nearly $3 billion; if public employee unions do not agree with the reduction, he said he would furlough as many state workers as necessary to get the same result.
- Raising the gas tax by 32 cents a gallon for one year, in the event Propositions 1C-1E do not pass on Tuesday, deepening a $15 billion deficit to $21 billion, in order to avoid deeper cuts in K-14 schools and community college districts.
- Rejecting the governor’s proposals to sell off state properties, “borrow” $2 billion from local governments and accelerate tax payments, all of which he described as one-time gimmicks that will not address California’s structural deficit.
Campbell is scheduled to debate the special election budget props with Insurance Commission Poizner in Sacramento Monday. Whitman declined to join the debate, presumably to have drinks with Fred Barnes.