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Whitman would 'reorient' lawmakers as governor, she says

February 3, 2010 |  1:06 pm

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has had his share of problems dealing with state lawmakers, referring to them as "girlie men" early in his tenure. One of his would-be successors, GOP candidate Meg Whitman, indicated this week that she wouldn't come bearing flowers should she be elected.

In an interview Tuesday with Dennis Prager, a conservative radio host, Whitman said she wants to "reorient" legislators to focus on more important issues, threatening to use her veto pen, much as Schwarzenegger has, to get them in line. She added that none of the legislation approved last year was "on point."

"The governor has to work with the Legislature but the Legislature has to work with the governor because the governor has line-item veto in California," Whitman said.

"My view is we've got to reorient the Legislature to fixing our current problems. You know, last year the Legislature looked at 2,000 bills, and I think signed 900 -- over 900 -- into law, none of which was on point to the crises we face here."

In fact, it is the governor, which Whitman is seeking to become, who signs bills into law, not the Legislature. Last year, Schwarzenegger, also a Republican, signed 724 bills into law.

Some of those included a slate of bills to deal with the state's perennial water problem, one to allow hospitals to access $2 billion in federal Medi-Cal funding, and another creating a pilot program in four counties to make first-time DUI offenders blow into a breath-testing device attached to their car before they can drive to show they are not drunk. The governor signed bills allowing first responders to vote from the front lines of an emergency scene, and to combat human trafficking.

Said Whitman: "Let's stop the bill factory and focus on jobs, spending and education."

Prager said he was disappointed with Schwarzenegger, who was a political outsider just like Whitman. Suggesting that the governor was not conservative enough, Prager asked Whitman, a former EBay chief executive, why she wouldn't be "a female Arnold Schwarzenegger."

"Our backgrounds are just entirely different," she said. "I'm a businessperson and I've been in business for 20 years."

-- Michael Rothfeld