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California GOP governor's race II -- Steve Poizner

September 28, 2009 |  8:02 am

California's State Capitol in Sacramento

As the nation's most populous state, California has even more voters than the new Obama White House has policy czars.

The state's politics and personalities have often been harbingers of trends, policies, tax revolts, etc. that eventually work their way across the country and draw international attention.

This past weekend, California's Republican Party held its state convention, a prime podium for its major gubernatorial hopefuls to address the party faithful and lay out their initial profile and policy declarations. This included former Rep. Tom Campbell, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and businesswoman Meg Whitman.

They've each been raising money and endorsements for months, of course, with varying degrees of success. But because this is the de facto public campaign start, The Ticket decided to run the unfiltered speech text given by each declared candidate so readers can get a feel for who's coming, how they choose to describe themselves at the outset and what to watch for.

We'll publish them here this morning about two hours apart in last-name alphabetical order and add links to each when all are posted. Campbell's speech text was published earlier today.

Poizner's campaign website is here.

As always, feel free to leave your civil comments at the bottom.

-- Andrew Malcolm

But first, click here for Twitter alerts on each new Ticket item. Or follow us    @latimestot

Remarks by Steve Poizner to the California Republican State Convention, Sept. 26:

Thank you. Good evening.

First of all, Dennis, thank you very much for that fantastic introduction. I have to say a word or two about Sen. Hollingsworth. Now, I get to watch him closely in Sacramento. The fact is, Sen.Hollingsworth is a fantastic Republican leader and you know what? I've learned a lot by watching how tough he is.

The fact is, you don't have to compromise all the time. You don't have to give in all the time. Sen. Hollingsworth has shown that if you stand tall on Republican conservative principles, you can win.

So, this is my 10th California Republican Party convention in a row, and it's nice to see all my friends and all kinds of folks I've been working with over a long period of time. I have to....

...confess, I love coming these Republican Party conventions. It's the heart and soul of the Republican Party. You all, the turnout, the activists, the ones who really care about growing the Republican Party come to these conventions. Let's hear it for activists all up and down the state of California. Good for them.

Now I just have a few things to talk about tonight. The first thing I want to talk about is some actually very disturbing news this week. I just wanted to start off with some information I know you've been following that's very troubling. But the fact is, Iran just disclosed, actually boasted about having a second uranium enrichment plant that was hidden under tunnels developing weapons-grade material in separate from their -- the one that we've known about.

And the fact is, this presents a huge danger and threat to the national security of the world. Now, you -- as Dennis mentioned, you might remember I did work in the White House. I was in the National Security Council. I was in the counter-terrorism group. It was a privilege to be appointed by President Bush to focus on national security issues.

Hard to believe I started -- I can't even believe this when I think about it -- I started September 4th, 2001, one week before the 9/11 crisis, and I did work with the FBI, the Secret Service, with the Pentagon, with the intelligence communities to build a new homeland security plan for this country post-9/11.

Now I had a security clearance that was well above top secret. I can't even talk about most of the things I worked on. But I can tell you this, the country of Iran poses a huge threat to its own people, to its neighbors and to the national security of the United States of America, and the fact is, it's also critically important that we choke off money flows that are going in to support that corrupt regime.

Now, this is a huge battle. This is a huge battle here; it is a huge threat, and we all have to play our roles and play our cards. The fact is, I'm in a position to actually have an impact, and I'm going to take it. As California insurance commissioner, I oversee a massive insurance industry, about $160 billion in size, about 10% of the entire California economy. Fourth-largest insurance markets in the world here in California.

Now you know how it works, right? You pay insurance premiums year after year after year for auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, workers' comp insurance. Insurance companies end up collecting a huge amount of cash. Insurance companies end up being the largest investor group in the world, about $3 trillion.

Now my team and I at the Department of Insurance, we discovered that some of that investment portfolio is being invested directly or indirectly in Iran. Now that is wrong, and it's possibly against state and federal sanctions.

But I can promise you this, as your insurance commissioner, I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure that your hard-earned insurance premium dollars do not make it into that corrupt Islamic Republic of Iran. Now I learned first-hand how to really deal with crises when I was working in the White House, and it was a remarkable thing, watching a national security personnel get that gigantic federal bureaucracy to move quickly and to build a new homeland security plan in pretty short order. It was a great learning experience to see how things can really come together in a crisis.

Well, we're in a crisis here in California now too. Of course, we're not in a national security crisis; we're in an economic crisis, and I really do think this presents a very special opportunity, as Dennis mentioned, for the Republican Party of California.

We can lead this state out of the worst economic mess it's been in since its inception in 1850. We can lead this state out of this mess by making decisions based on core Republican Party principles of individual liberty, personal responsibility, a robust and healthy free enterprise system, and small and accountable government. Now don't let people come in here and tell you that we need to re-brand the Republican Party.

Don't let people come in here and tell you that we need to reposition the Republican Party, and don't let people come in here and tell you that we need to reestablish the Republican Party at the center. That is wrong, that is nonsense. We get in trouble as a party when we elect leaders in Sacramento or in Washington, D.C. that abandon these core Republican Party principles. That's the truth.

Now, it is a crisis, and let me just review some of the facts with you. The fact is, our unemployment rate is 12.2%. Now the real unemployment rate is really closer to 15% or 16%. A lot of people have just given up looking for jobs.

Now let's just go to the official unemployment rate, 12.2%. That is the highest unemployment rate for the state of California since the Great Depression. We lost 750,000 jobs just in the last 12 months. We have an unemployment rate here that's 2.5% higher than the national average.

Now, it's not a big surprise we have such a high unemployment rate. California as an economy, our market share in the global economy plummeting. 1999, we were the sixth-largest economy in the world, by 2003 we had fallen to seventh. Last year, eighth and declining.

This state is losing market share on a global basis at a rapid clip, and as we've been shrinking as an economic powerhouse, our competitors are getting stronger and stronger and stronger. Take the not-so- friendly neighboring state of Nevada. Anybody here from Nevada? OK, good, let's talk about Nevada for a second. 

The governor of Nevada appointed a SWAT team. That SWAT team reports directly to the governor. That SWAT team has one mission -- recruit people like you all to pick up and move from California to Nevada. And now they're taking out full-page ads promoting this idea. They're also on TV now, and the ads have a simple message. In our own publications here in California, the message is, if you do business in California, you're nuts.

Come to Nevada where there's no corporate income tax, zero, where there's no personal income tax, zero, where the workers' compensation insurance rates are 30% less than in California and the electricity stays on. People are moving, and it's not just nearby states that are giving us such competitive pressure.

We compete with the whole world now because of the Internet and the global economy. Who are our largest three competitors now? Well, there's India, China, Russia.

Let's just look at those three countries for a moment. These three countries did not matter much to us at all, economically speaking, as little as 15 years ago. Well, that's changed rapidly. If you add up all the people that live in just those three countries, 3 billion people, and if you assume that 90% of the people that live in those three countries are uneducated peasants, which is basically the case, you're still left with 300 million people.

California Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner

Highly educated, aggressive business people, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs that for the first time in the history of the planet, these people can compete with us just fine by staying put and just simply plugging in. So what happens?

What happens when you unleash 300 million new entrepreneurs into the global economy in a very short period of time? You get rapid change. Exponential change. So, ladies and gentleman, what we need to do is completely overhaul the jobs- creating environment in California or we're going to get steam-rolled in this 21st century global economy.

So here's what I want to do. I'm running for governor so that we can make California the innovation capital of the world again.

When I mention innovation, I'm not just talking about my home territory in Silicon Valley. Yes, Silicon Valley is a nice chapter, an exciting chapter in California history. I'm talking about the fact that California has been a magnet for innovators and entrepreneurs for over 150 years.

The fact is, first it was the innovators in ranching that showed up here in Southern California in the early 1800s, then it was the farmers, then the miners, then it was aerospace, then it was arts and entertainment and communications, then it was defense contractors, then it was hardware and software then wireless and the Internet. Biotech, then nanotech.

I mean one wave of innovators after another coming to California, amazing. I've got to tell you, I am so proud to be a Californian. Are you proud to be a Californian too? You should be proud, because as a collection of people, we Californians have solved more of the world's problems, have created more wealth than any other collection of people ever in the history of mankind, exception maybe during the Renaissance period. This is just a phenomenal story. All of it at risk, all of it at risk now because we have such a hostile jobs-creating environment that people are just leaving.

Now here's my plan. I rolled it out about a few days ago. It will be the centerpiece of my campaign. It's a jobs package that's bold and comprehensive, and it will fix the problems of chasing jobs out of the state of California.

It has four basic components, I'm just going to summarize it for you tonight. No. 1, we absolutely positively have to cut taxes across the board. That's just essential. We had the highest sales taxes, vehicle license fees, gas taxes, income taxes. I mean this is an incredibly high-tech state.

The only solution are broad-based across-the-board tax cuts, and my specific plan is to cut personal income tax rates by 10%, corporate income tax rates by 10%, sales taxes by 10%, and capital gains taxes by 50%. Then we could compete.

Now I was meeting with some of the media who's in the back of the room there in a few hours ago, and they were pushing me pretty hard. What do you mean cut taxes? How on Earth can you cut taxes when we can't even balance the budget? The answer, of course, is how can we afford not to cut taxes? We clearly need to have lower taxes, and you watch, lower tax rates will produce higher tax revenues. President Reagan figured that out. If I can get Tom Del Beccaro to stand on something, that's got to be an important point.

The second part of my jobs plan is tort reform. This is a lawsuit-crazy state. The fact is, the average tort rewards in California are 50% higher than the national average. Are there any lawyers here? Would you mind, could ya'll leave for just a second, because I want to talk about tort reform. 

The fact is, we know how to do tort reform in California; we did it with malpractice insurance by putting a cap on the amount of non-economic damage awards on malpractice cases, did that about 30 years ago. I can't believe the Legislature did that, that's what they did. So it's a common, thoughtful, good approach to tort reform.  And now, malpractice insurance rates have been steady here in California while in the rest of the country they have gone up by 500%. OK, so now let's do the same thing for all kinds of torts. Let's put a $250,000 cap on all non-economic damage awards and that will make a big difference in the state of California.

Third part of my plan is to align our labor laws with the rest of the country. Now, I've been an employer; a lot of you have hired folks, a lot of you care about workers just as much as anybody. Why does California have to have extreme labor laws that make us stick out like a sore thumb? 

For example, only in California and a couple other states do you have to pay overtime after eight hours in a day rather than 40 hours in a week like almost in every other state. Now who does that hurt?  It hurts workers who want to work four 10-hour days but they can't do that.  What employer would allow you to do that because they have to pay overtime? Let's all align our laws, our labor code, with federal labor standards so that we can be in sync with the rest of the economy.

And one last thing, we have to slay the regulatory beast here in the state of California. Fact is, let's just be honest about it, if you want to build a new power plant, or a new manufacturing facility, you just can't. You'll never get a permit. 

It will take years and years to go through the byzantine permitting process and at the end, you likely won't even get the permit. It can take so long that in the course it just drives people to forget, it will just go to some other state. 

Now, one of the first things I'm going to do as governor is I'm going to appoint a chief innovation officer.  That person is going to report directly to me. We are going to create a website. The website is going to be a one-stop shop. Rather than having to go to dozens of different places to get all the different city and county and state permits, go to one place, on one website, and then that chief innovation officer is going to set up a self-funded dispute-resolution system. 

So if you apply for a permit, you will get an answer, under my administration, in one year or less. Now, some of you might be thinking, "Well, one year sounds like a long time." That will be a remarkable massive improvement, you can count on that.

So this is basically the package. Across-the-board tax cuts, some reasonable tort reform, let's align our labor code with federal labor standards, and let's streamline the permitting process.

What do you think?  OK, just one last question and time for dinner here. What does my jobs package have to do with one of the most important subjects facing all California citizens and that is the big structural budget deficit? 

Everything, everything. It absolutely matters where companies start and grow. Now let me just give you one quick example. My last company, SnapTrak, you just heard about it. We figured out a way to put those GPS receivers into cellphones, so when you dial 911 from the cellphone, the emergency operators will know where you're calling from. There are 700 million of them now out there. And we saved hundreds of lives, very proud of it.  Sold the company to Qualcomm a few years ago. 

So I did some math. How much in taxes did my 100 employees pay before selling the company to Qualcomm? Income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, inheritance taxes, capital gains taxes, beer taxes, wine taxes, hotel taxes. There are 900 different taxes and fees in the state of California.

The answer? $100 million. So if I would have started my company, SnapTrak, in my home state of Texas rather than in California, state and local governments would be $100 million more in the hole. 

Google has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Google has 19,000 employees. It's phenomenal. If you do the math on Google, $10 billion. So if Google would've started its company in Nevada rather than California, our budget deficit would be $10 billion worse.

It makes all the difference in the world where folks start and grow companies. That's the key. So we're in this big crisis. It's time to step up and lead the charge. As a Republican Party, folks in the state of California are counting on us.

Now we've worked together before on lots of things over the years. We worked together on voter registration drives with volunteer organizations. We've worked together on redistricting reform.

Now remember a lesson two years ago, we worked together on Proposition 93. Remember that scam? That's when former Sen. Perata and former Sen. Nunez were trying to pull a fast one. Right? Remember they put this ballot initiative, Prop. 93 on the ballot, that had this deceiving wording that came from Jerry Brown.

And the wording gave people the impression that the term limits would actually tighten when in fact the whole thing was just to keep them in office for many more years. And I looked around and there was no one running the campaign against it, so I stepped up to run the "no" campaign, and a bunch of you in this room stepped up to help.

And even though we were outspent 3 to 1, we beat that thing by 600,000 votes, and Perata and Nunez are home right now.

So I look forward to working with all of you. 2010 can be a great year. We can get California back on track. We can win our fair share of elections in 2010, and, yes indeed, we can and we will help Jerry Brown retire once and for all. Thank you all very much.

Top photo: California State Capitol. Credit Associated Press

Lower photo: Steve Poizner. Credit: Poizner campaign.