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Cutting Remarks by Simon

Politics: Gubernatorial candidate says state needs immediate large reductions in spending and capital gains tax.


Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon Jr. laid out a plan to jump-start California's economy Wednesday, calling for swift cuts in both the state's capital gains tax and its budget.

Saying that Gov. Gray Davis could not wait until next year to deal with a possible $13-billion deficit, Simon cited as ripe for cutting $100 million in "pork" that was added to the next year's budget to win the Republican votes needed for its recent passage. He said the state spends $400 million to fund vacant positions that could also be eliminated, as well as some of what he identified as $15 billion spent on "state operations."

In pressing for the capital gains tax cut, Simon said the savings would increase wealth and, ultimately, state revenues. He said he favored cutting the tax, presently 9.3% for most Californians, to 5%.

Besides those budget trims, Simon proposed rolling back 17 laws he called "job killers," including new measures restricting development and requiring certain employers to pay overtime.

He also called for repeal of the law that allowed California to enter the power-buying business earlier this year, but later clarified that he wants to reexamine the $43 billion in long-term electricity contracts that flowed from the bill, not dismantle all of the electricity structure it brought.

In a lunch at the California Club in downtown Los Angeles with members of the Los Angeles Lincoln Club, Simon said he could provide the business-friendly leadership California requires.

"I think what people need, especially in the wake of Sept. 11, is a leader who can anticipate [problems], a leader they can have confidence in," Simon said. "They're tired of people who do not anticipate crises."

Though the former federal prosecutor said he has modeled his candidacy on another onetime political neophyte--Ronald Reagan--Simon spent more time Wednesday citing another Republican as his role model--his onetime boss Rudolph Giuliani, now the mayor of New York City. Simon noted that he had been breakfasting with Giuliani the morning of Sept. 11, and he peppered his talk with first-name references.

Shirley Yap Griffith, a Glendale attorney and member of the Republican Lincoln Club, was duly impressed. "Were you really having lunch with the mayor of New York?" she asked him.

Another questioner asked Simon, the son of former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon, how his opposition to abortion would square with voters.

"I am pro-life but I will uphold the law. I will not be an activist governor on abortion," said Simon, who noted that his wife favors abortion rights.

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