RICHARD RIDER FOR GOVERNOR QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
The state's economy and taxes are of considerable concern to voters. Are business taxes part of the problem? What measures do you propose to maximize California's ability to compete with other states for new plants and jobs?
From a business owner's standpoint, California is arguably the most pro-tax, pro-regulation, pro-litigation anti-business state in the nation. As a result, both our economy and our government coffers are going broke. Even the politicians are discovering that they can't spend what they can't steal.
Unfortunately, the solution often touted for too much government interference is -- more government! We don't need to start subsidizing businesses with sweetheart deals funded by the taxpayer -- we just need to get government out of the way and let companies once again make a profit.
I would abolish the workers' comp program entirely. No single program does more harm to our economy and its workers. It is an $11,000,000,000 tax on Californians. Trial lawyers and medical disability mills, coupled with massive fraud, suck the fund dry. Only a trickle of benefits actually reach the genuine work- related disability cases.
We must slash state spending and lower taxes for both businesses and individuals. 90% of the regulatory structure can be removed with no significant increase in harm. And we must adopt the English system of "loser pays" to counter the frivolous litigation that costs us all in both product and insurance costs.
What do you believe are the problems facing education in California today? What would you do as governor to correct them?
Any businessman will tell you the problem with California schools--they don't work! The young may be full of self-esteem, but they are often not employable in the higher skilled jobs without extensive additional education efforts by their employers.
The one thing education does NOT need is more money. Government spends far more per student on education than do private schools, yet clearly the private schools produce superior results.
Internal reforms to public education are secondary to implementing a full choice voucher system to return control to the parents. Long term, only choice and competition will improve education. I supported Prop 174, the choice initiative.
One reform I would immediately support is the abolition of the redundant county boards of education. This waste of dollars could be better spent directly by the districts or, better yet, returned to the taxpayers.
Excluding K-l2 education, what would you do to restructure state government?
1. Repeal state "prevailing wage" laws which increase public works project costs as much as 50%.
2. Abolish the useless office of Lieutenant Governor, establishing the Controller as the successor to the governor's office.
3. Privatize the prison system (as is being done in other states) at a 20% to 30% savings.
4. Abolish AFDC payments to mothers having new babies, and phase out the payments to existing recipients over a 2 year timeframe.
5. Require a 2/3 legislative or voter super-majority for any increase in taxes or fees.
6. Abolish unfunded state mandates imposed on local governments.
7. Return to a part-time legislature, as is practiced by most of the other states.
8. Adjust state employee compensation to match true private sector wages and fringe benefits, saving 20% or more on payroll costs.
9. Require legislators voting for legislation to sign a statement that they have first read the law and understand its provisions. Legislators subject to perjury penalties and loss of office for lying.
10. Privatize every possible government function.
11. Adopt Tom McClintock's plan for cutting state spending and taxes $11.5 billion. And that would be just the beginning.
12. End the funneling of tax money up to Sacramento and then back to the counties. Counties should keep property taxes for local use.
How can the state's economy improve in the face of looming defense cuts and continued high unemployment?
We must make California once again a producer-friendly state. To do that, we must slash the welfare system, cut taxes dramatically, privatize government functions, all but eliminate state regulations, reform the crazy litigation system (institute "loser pays" lawsuit attorney costs) and replace the corrupt workers comp system with
voluntary private disability insurance policies.
Will California ever again be a manufacturing economy, or are we destined to be a service-oriented economy?
There is no reason we cannot be a manufacturing state. But as long as we are so anti-business in California, those businesses who can meet their customers' demand from afar (including most manufacturers) will move their businesses out of state.
How can we pay for the rising population of prison inmates, especially in light of the Three-Strikes law?
We must amend the crazy Three-Strikes law so that it applies only to violent felonies. The current law is meting out life sentences for crimes such as stealing a single slice of pizza. We can't afford this law, and, more important, it is fundamentally wrong to impose such Draconian penalties for minor crimes.
What steps would you take to reduce illegal immigration to California?
Our problem isn't so much the illegal immigration as the generous welfare and benefits package we offer. Our welfare state is a tremendous magnet not only for illegal aliens, but also legal immigrants and migrants from other states, not to mention the corruption of our domestic population. While I welcome those who come
to California to work, we must end the government welfare giveaway programs.
What steps would you take to reduce crime?
We must concentrate our law enforcement efforts on violent crimes and crimes against property, including fraud. We must treat violent juvenile criminals over age 13 as adults. Law abiding citizens should be able to carry firearms. In Florida, crime has dropped dramatically since the state has allowed noncriminal citizens to carry weapons in public. But to really reduce crime, we must stop prosecuting victimless crimes, thus freeing up police, courts and prison cells to deal with the truly dangerous criminals.
Can you envision a situation were you would grant clemency for a criminal?
Certainly. The people's constitution gives that power to the governor, and he has the responsibility to review questionable guilt or outrageous penalties and determining whether clemency is appropriate. Let me emphasize that I'm a supporter of the death penalty for heinous capital crimes. The real problem revolves around some of the already incredible 3rd strike cases where life in prison is imposed for minor crimes (such as stealing a single piece of pizza). These are cases where, as governor, I would consider a reduced sentence.
How would you fund the earthquake damage to our highways?
Repairs and improvements of state roads should be funded out of existing tax revenues. We can do it if we repeal the state's "prevailing wage" law which hikes construction costs as much as 50%. We should also end expensive and unfair quota contracts for "minority" businesses, and return to the American concept of seeking the lowest bid available from competent contractors. Existing gas tax revenues are more than adequate to pay for such repairs, particularly if we drop the public transit boondoggles which make no economic sense and drain the gas tax revenues away from road maintenance.
Do you see a need to raise taxes to balance the budget?
Hell no! I WOULD NEVER RAISE TAXES. Both the state and local governments are awash in tax revenue. It is spending that is out of control. We must slash spending. We must phase out the welfare state. We should balance the budget through spending cuts, and then we can start cutting taxes bigtime. The first tax to go should be the state income tax.
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