Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Details Matter in the Debate

September 23, 2003

When and whether voters will recall Gov. Gray Davis remains uncertain, but the debate among the top candidates Wednesday promises to be the highlight of the special election campaign. One reason is that Arnold Schwarzenegger has shunned all debates but this one. Now that they'll all be on the same stage, voters deserve more than photo ops.

The voters need factual, direct answers. Any candidate who wishes to be taken seriously must go beyond vague promises. Here are key topics that candidates should address specifically.

Economy. Just how would they fix the state's fiscal mess? They must explain which parts of the budget should be cut and what the consequences of those cuts would be. Republicans Schwarzenegger and State Sen. Tom McClintock particularly need to be specific, because both promise to balance the budget without raising taxes. Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat, should explain why his business proposals, including one to have gas prices regulated by a state commission, are not bound to create more problems than they would solve in an already tough economic climate.

Immigration. All candidates need to address this sensitive but critical subject directly. Saying, as Davis does, that immigration is a Washington problem is an excuse, but it's no answer. It is estimated that about 2 million illegal immigrants work in California, pay taxes and send their children to public schools. What rights or services should they receive in this state? Which rights and services should be denied them? Should they get driver's licenses and be eligible to receive college scholarships? Where should the line be drawn?

Legislature. No matter how the recall election comes out, the governor cannot solve major problems -- especially in the fiscal arena -- without working with the Legislature. McClintock, especially, should explain how he will govern effectively, because his bedrock conservatism is so dramatically at odds with the leftward leanings of the legislative leadership.

Gambling. To what extent should the state regulate Indian casino gambling in California? This question is particularly pertinent for Bustamante, who has received millions in contributions from casino tribes, although a judge ruled Monday that those contributions cannot continue. Bustamante's campaign manager said that the lieutenant governor would be happy to return the money, except, oops, they spent it all. Does Bustamante favor any limit on the number of slot machines each casino can have? Should the state share in the tribes' take? How much? The others should offer specific answers to these questions as well.

This debate has the potential of being among the most informative and influential ever held in the state -- but only if the candidates reply with specific, concrete and candid answers. Note to Schwarzenegger: Hollywood rules do not apply in this gubernatorial debate. Candid does not mean avoiding the responsibility of past statements by saying you "made it up."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|