Producer: Don Sipple
Script: Schwarzenegger, in a blue dress shirt and a tie (he rarely wears ties on the campaign trail), begins by walking toward the camera and saying: "My candidacy is all about big change in Sacramento." The scene shifts to the interior of what appears to be a stylish restaurant with natural light. Seated around Schwarzenegger is a diverse group of restaurant patrons. One woman asks: "How are you going to end the financial mess?" Schwarzenegger replies: "Well, California is spending $29 million per day more than it takes in. Now, here is my plan: Audit everything, open the books, and then we end the crazy deficit spending." Then a man asks Schwarzenegger: "What about the car tax?" Schwarzenegger answers: "Outrageous, and I will repeal it. It really comes down to this: If you are happy with the way things are, then keep your current leaders. If you want to change this state, then join me."
Script: Schwarzenegger, in the same location, walks toward the camera and says: "My candidacy is all about big change in Sacramento, and the people have a right to know what that means for them." A woman asks him: "How are you going to end the financial mess?" Schwarzenegger's reply: "Well, California is spending $29 million per day more than it takes in. Now, here is my plan: Day One, audit everything. Open the books. And then, we end the crazy deficit spending." A woman at another table asks: "Will you have to cut education?" Schwarzenegger's reply: "No. We can fix this mess without hurting the schools. For me, children come first. Always have, always will."
Accuracy: Schwarzenegger appears to derive the $29-million-a-day figure by dividing the $10.7 billion the state is borrowing to close the 2002-03 deficit by 365. But under a new budget approved this summer, heavy borrowing is helping the state bring in about $6 million more in revenue than it spends per day right now. But the state is expected to face another huge deficit next year, and Schwarzenegger's campaign doesn't explain how he would tackle it. Schwarzenegger says he'll audit the state's books -- a stance that allows him to delay identifying specific cuts in state programs until after the election. In fact, the ads include two promises -- to repeal the car tax and to stop cuts to education -- that would add to the state's budget deficit. In particular, education represents such a large piece of state spending that many fiscal experts say it is impossible to balance the state's budget without cutting education funds -- or raising taxes, a step that Schwarzenegger has ruled out. Proposition 98 already reduces flexibility in cutting education by requiring that roughly 40 cents of every general fund dollar go to schools.
Analysis: The ads were released Wednesday, as Schwarzenegger was skipping the campaign's first major debate. As structured, the ads give the impression that Schwarzenegger is addressing questions. In fact, Schwarzenegger has done only brief interviews, sticking to scripted answers and taking fewer questions than most of his opponents. He has made finances and education pillars of the campaign but has not offered specific budget cuts or tax changes and has not detailed any specific education policy.
Compiled by Times staff writers Joe Mathews and Doug Smith
Los Angeles Times