Lamenting the severe downturn in the auto industry, Whitman said, "I probably wouldn't be doing things that damage the car companies at this very minute."
Whitman also cited economic concerns as she expressed an openness to new offshore oil drilling, a stand that has harmed other Republicans seeking statewide office. New drilling techniques, she said, might offset the environmental risk.
"I would ordinarily say no, but I think given these economic times I want to look at the technology again," she said.
Whitman said she supported the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis -- and regretted not casting a vote in that historic election.
As an "extraordinarily busy" mother and traveling executive, she said, she "didn't vote as often as I should, and it's something I regret. And no good excuses for it. Wish I had. Should have."
As for restoring California's fiscal health, Whitman said that holding the line on taxes and scaling back state regulations would spur economic growth and pump new money into the treasury -- an agenda that Schwarzenegger pursued with no success. Whitman also called for steps that would seem to deepen the budget hole: higher salaries for math and science teachers, along with new cuts in corporate income taxes.
At the same time, she said voters should repeal ballot measures that dedicated money solely to mental health and tobacco-related healthcare programs so that revenue could be diverted elsewhere.
She offered no specifics on programs she would cut.
On the state workforce, she said, "I would be in favor of looking at twice the number of furloughs, or looking at real head-count reductions in the bureaucracy."
Schwarzenegger is forcing most state workers to take off two days a month without pay, and on Tuesday unveiled plans to lay off up to 10,000 state workers if lawmakers fail to pass a budget this week.
"This is something that I've done before," Whitman said of her fiscal recovery plans. "I think maybe it is about time for a governor who has created jobs, who's managed a budget, who's led and inspired large organizations, who listens well, and who can drive an agenda."
Budget talks held in secret
Closed-door approach angers lawmakers and constituents. PAGE 3