Whitman starts talking about Calif. issues

February 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
One woman who is running for governor is talking about how to fix some of California's many financial problems. Republican Meg Whitman sat down for a rare one-on-one interview with ABC7.

Whitman has been all over the radio and TV with her political ads, but ABC7 has not had a chance to talk with her in the past five months.

Whitman has faced criticism from her opponents for dodging news conferences and debates and as she sat down with ABC7's Mark Matthews for a scheduled 10-minute interview, that was the first question.

"I think there will be plenty of time for debate in March, April, May. I think we're working on setting another one up; we've got lots of invitations," says Whitman.

She has declined to debate Republican rival Steve Poizner at next month's Republican Convention in Santa Clara, but she says she will meet him the following Monday in Orange County.

"In fact, we accepted that back in September," says Whitman.

Whitman says she is far more focused on meeting with voters.

"Everywhere I go, I see people are desperately worried about will they still have their job, did someone in their family lose their job," says Whitman.

Her priority is to make it easier for businesses to grow.

"In order to put people back to work, we've got to do targeted tax credits, that as fast as possibly can do it, do a tax credit that leads to hiring," says Whitman.

She also supports ending the sales tax on manufacturing equipment, accelerating the depreciation on those machines, and cutting the size of the state government back to 2005 levels.

"Ten thousand civil servants retire every year. So if you didn't hire anyone new for three years, you'd be down by 30,000 individuals, which would be part of the way of getting back to where we were just five years ago," says Whitman.

She says the state needs to cut aid programs.

"We have twice the population of New York, but five times as many welfare cases," says Whitman.

Forty percent of the welfare recipients in California are children.

"And I am not for taking children's benefits away, but we have got to get their parents back to work," says Whitman.

On taxes, Whitman was asked if she would support a package of spending cuts and tax increases if a majority of Republicans in the legislature agreed to it.

"I think we cannot raise taxes on Californians today. We have the highest sales tax, the highest corporate income tax, the highest personal income tax," says Whitman.

She says her years as eBay's CEO have prepared her for the governor's job.

"The government does not create jobs. What the government can do is create the conditions for small businesses to grow and thrive; I know a lot about that, I've met payroll, I've balanced budgets," says Whitman.

She did grow eBay from a small start-up to one of the biggest internet companies in California, but it is also true that in her last four years, the company's stock fell 43 percent.

"You know when you're building a company, you do the very best job that you can everyday and I'm remarkably proud of the record that we put together over the 10 years there," says Whitman.

There was not a lot of detail in her answers and not a lot of time the time ABC7 was allotted. For example, when she said she wanted to cut government workers, that is pretty much the same idea Gov. Schwarzenegger had but was unable to pull off. When ABC7 asked her how she would make it work when the governor could not, she said it came down to leadership.

ABC7 will be sitting down with her Republican rival, Steve Poizner, on Thursday.