Questions That Weren’t Asked in the Gubernatorial Debate

(Editor’s Note: As part of the first gubernatorial debate between Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown at UC Davis’ Mondavi Center, the university solicited questions to ask the candidates. From this list, the question that did get asked – Number 6 – dealt with restoring cuts to higher education. Below is the university’s list of submissions with some punctuation editing. One of the questions that wasn’t chosen was subsequently asked of Candidate Brown at his post-debate soiree at Bistro 33. His answer follows that question.)


1) My question is directed toward former Governor Brown. Mr. Brown: In a current radio advertisement, Ms. Whitman claims that she will reform welfare with a “Work for Welfare” program and a two-year limit for aid. This sounds appealing to Democrats like myself who are fiscally conservative, and who are frustrated with our state’s compulsive overspending. Many of us believe that reforming welfare should be a priority for our leaders. If you were elected, what measures (if any) would you take to reform welfare?

2) According to the proposed budget, the Legislative, Judicial, Executive budget has the greatest increase 54% over last years¹ budget while most budget areas are showing reductions.  In fact, the next closest increase is only 15%. It seems clear that the politicians are protecting their purview while expecting everyone else to cut. What would you do faced with a proposed budget that seems inconsistent with other budget areas?

3) Cash reward incentives exist for everything from recovering lost dogs to locating Osama bin Ladin.  But as the debacle in Bell, California demonstrated, there is no effective statewide reward program to encourage Californians to expose wrongdoing by government employees, contractors, or officials — elected or otherwise — those who are either doing what they should not be doing, not doing what they should be doing or wasting tax dollars. As governor, would you call for the establishment of a statewide reward program to identify and eliminate such abuses or at least present a formidable deterrent to potential wrongdoers?

4) Immigration took center stage a few months back due to the controversial Arizona law SB 1070. Would any of you two support a similar law in California?

5) What are your views on tort reform?

(Thank you John Sullivan)

6) As a UC student who has attended California public schools my entire life. I am concerned for the future of public education in this state. As governor, would you rollback all of the funding cuts to the UC, CSU and community colleges? Why or why not?

7) Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed a ferret amnesty bill back in 2004, citing uncertain environmental concerns. This is an issue that has been going on for 70 years now. What is your stance on the effort to legalize ferrets in California?

(Pity this didn’t make the cut. Legalizing ferrets could be significant revenue raiser, a boon to the state’s cash-starved general fund.)

8) What will you do when California misses its bond payments, has 25% unemployment, is insolvent and Northern, Central California wanting to form their own states?

(Clearly an optimist. Seppuku, most likely.)

9) Recently members of California State Bargaining Unit 6, California Correctional Peace Officers, have been subject to furloughs. While all state units designated as “Public Safety” have not been subject to the governor’s furloughs, Unit 6 has. Do you believe California’s Correctional Peace Officers are part of California’s “Public Safety” units?  If so, will they be afforded the same rights and opportunities as other members of Public Safety, CHP, State Park Police, etc…?

10) As a college student, the most important thing for me is to know how exactly each candidate will try and funnel more money into the schooling system. For years now, UC tuition costs have been gradually increasing to a point where it may one day not even be financially beneficial to attend UC. Also, in most public high schools, even top-rated schools who recognize the importance of humanities classes, the first classes to go when funding is cut are the drama and music courses which not only provide us with a well rounded education but also takes away the option of doing something we enjoy instead of something career related. I would like to know how exactly each candidate will improve the school system financially and help us become one of the leading states in education.

11) Electing a new governor has always seemed a lot like buying a cement swimming pool — both begin with a grandiose sales pitch but once either one is solidly in place, there¹s never any satisfactory recourse when the end product fails to meet, or even resemble, the claims made in the sales pitch.  So, before voters install you, what restitution are you willing to promise voters — other than year after year of pointless excuses and useless apologies — if you don¹t “hold water”?

(Killer simile. Regrettably too often true.)

12) What is your message to gay Californians and why should they vote for you?

13) For Meg Whitman: As governor, would you favor repealing the Obamacare plan?  Several Republicans, including Carly Fiorina, seem to be in favor of repealing and/or starting all over etc. Governor Schwarzenegger recently pledged his cooperation of implementing the Obamacare plan, though he is not in agreement with much of it. But he also realizes how vital it is that all residents have affordable health insurance, since medical bills are a leading cause of bankruptcy in California, even for those who have health insurance, let alone the uninsured. This is in sharp contrast to other Republican governors in other states. Hopefully, both candidates will weigh in on this question if asked.

14) How does Meg Whitman plan on fulfilling the production loss in California when she lays off 40,000 state employees? How does she feel contributing to an increase in unemployment in California by doing so? How would laying off over 10% of the California workforce help California and not scare the economy into another and deeper plummet as citizens are trembling to hold onto a job and they become more and more frugal, further crippling a very fragile economy? While those 40,000 employees who just lost their jobs are now more frugal than ever trying to keep themselves and their families afloat. What are Meg Whitman’s and Jerry Brown’s devised plans on helping California out of the huge economic pit hole? Where do they stand on California’s first execution in five years which takes place tomorrow, September 29? How does Meg Whitman expect Californians to vote for her if she herself has not voted in the past 28 years?

(An entire one-hour debate could be devoted to answering this “one” question. A quick fact check: The Employment Development Department says 13.8 million Californians were working, as of August. The 40,000 state employee jobs represent more like 15 percent to 20 percent of the state government’s workforce.)

15) Since the current Republican Governor has chosen to cut funding programs for the poorest populations in California, do you support that policy? And, if not, what will your “business” agenda do about the rising level of poverty and the working poor in California?

16) To Meg Whitman: Many of your campaign ads point to increased money thrown at issues under the leadership of Jerry Brown. Yet, you have approached the campaign trail as though it is a thing to be bought, sparing no expense. While I understand much of this was your money, how are we to believe that you will not approach governing in the same fashion?

17) California has become ungovernable partly as a result of the initiative and referendum process, wherein laws made by public vote can’t be changed except by public vote, which hamstrings the governor and Legislature.  What will you do about that? And what is your opinion about holding a Constitutional Convention and rewriting the state Constitution?

18) Both candidates have said that California¹s integrated system of higher education ­ UC, CSU and the community colleges ­ is key to California¹s future.  Both have also decried the cuts and increasing tuition of recent years. Whitman has said that she wants to put $1 billion more into the system (assuming she can cut welfare).  While this is better than a cut, it only amounts to less than a quarter of the $4.6 billion it would take to restore quality, access and low fees. Her   proposal would require continuing rapid fee increases and continue the declining access and quality of California¹s system of higher education. Brown has said even less, simply calling for more on line courses and emphasis on community colleges.  Neither of these actions will reverse the declines of recent years or accomplish his stated policy goals. The question for both candidates: In light of these realities, how much money are you willing to spend to rebuild California¹s higher education system to reverse the erosion that has taken place in recent years? (Note that the whole system could be restored at a cost of only $32 to the median tax return in California.)

19) What is the single most pressing issue needing to be solved in California?

(Caliber of candidates for statewide office?)

20) Years ago, I heard Mr. Brown speak at a library in Sacramento. He said the goal of the mass media is to “isolate and entertain,” explaining that the media¹s intent is to get us alone in our living room with tube or a speaker, so it can tell us what to think and sell us stuff we don¹t need. In the years since, the media has become ever more adept at this.  But despite an every blossoming array of media choices, people seem to know less and argue more. My question for both candidates is this: What would you, as governor, do to reach out to the millions of Californians who do not actively participate in politics and who are not involved in their communities, to bring them out of their living rooms to meet their neighbors, and to increase the civility of what has become a very polarized and often mean-spirited political conversation that seems incapable of resolving key social and economic issues.

(Another one that should have made the cut.)

21) Please explain what your priorities will be regarding education and how you will work to make them happen.

22) What problems do you see with our business economic climate and how would you improve it?

23) Please ask which candidate has read either the U.S.A. or California constitutions. The winner of the election will take an oath to obey BOTH!

(Future Supreme Court justice)

24) Blank

(Proposition 19 supporter?)

25) Why is Sacramento holding up the $29 Billion in infrustructer (sic) improvement money when the state so badly needs the economic stimulus and the jobs it will create. The voters approved the bonds and the taxpayers of the state are on the hook for the repayment of the bonds and no state money is going to infrustructer (sic).

(Part of the reason is its more than three months into the new fiscal year and no budget has been enacted which makes potential bond buyers skittish to say the least. California also has the lowest bond rating in the country, which means when we sell bonds taxpayers pay a higher premium. That said, we sure could use some economic stimulus.)

26) What is your opinion about amnesty for those in California and the possibility of requiring those individuals to be allowed/required to file for a state issued licenses which in turn would increase the revenues to the DMV and state and create more jobs especially since it would increase insurance revenues too?

27) Would you support or oppose cutting off state monies to cities that provide sanctuary to illegal aliens until such cities comply with P.C. 834b? Would you support or oppose re-structuring the way welfare benefits are calculated for an Illegal Alien family that has one child born here in the United States? As of the present, the benefit amount is calculated based on the total number of people living in the household. Only one of those people could be considered an American citizen. The entire household benefits from the present calculation method and the taxpayers are tired of supporting them all.

28) Should all citizens and non-citizens of California be required to study seismology?

(This was asked of Candidate Brown after the debate. He quickly replied “no,” possibly indicating he had prepped on the issue and certainly jeopardizing receiving the vote of the seismologist who asked it. Candidate Brown said he would require Western Civilization and, with some initial equivocation, English.)

29) Whoever poses this question needs to ask that the candidates provide specifics–not just pie in the sky concepts. (Asking is one thing, how they answer another.) California has ongoing, long-term fiscal and budget problems. When the current governor ran for office, he suggested that getting rid of waste in government and making state government more efficient would resolve these problems. He, as promised, lowered vehicle fees. He appointed someone to do a study on waste and inefficiency.  We Californians never heard about the results of the study.  The fiscal and budget problems have gotten even worse over the past 5-6 years. Please explain in concrete and specific terms your ideas for how to solve the budget and fiscal problems in California and whether you believe that the Governor has the power to implement your ideas without structural change.  Include in your answer your proposed timeline for addressing these issues.

30) A report came out today (September 28) that accused Meg Whitman of having two conflicting messages on immigration. One in Spanish and one in English. Can she clarify her position on illegal immigration and any solutions she has to the problem?  And as a follow-up what is Jerry Brown¹s position and recommendation for dealing with illegal immigration in California?


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1 Comment »

  1. Think you might wanna preface EVERY question to the fact that 90% (or so) of the BUDGET DECISIONS are not made by the Governor/Legislators. CA citizens have used the Propositions over the last 30 or so years to allocate yearly funding (who gets what).

    And where is all that Lottery Money that was to solve the education problems?

    Comment by Curtis L walker — 10.01.2010 @ 8:19 pm

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