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California Republicans Unveil Economic Plan in Recall Race - 2003-08-20

Two Republican candidates in California's recall race have unveiled their plans to improve the state's troubled economy. Actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger and former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth both hope to unseat the state's Democratic governor, Gray Davis. The two Republicans promise to make California friendlier to business.

Wednesday, Mr. Schwarzenegger met with his team of financial advisers, a 20-member group that he calls his "California Economic Recovery Council." It includes billionaire investor Warren Buffett and former U.S. secretary of state and treasury secretary George Schultz.

At a news conference, Mr. Schwarzenegger said that as governor, he would address what he calls California's "number one problem," the state's economy. "I mean, we all know that California right now is going in the wrong direction. We all know that businesses are leaving, and with them, the jobs are leaving," he said.

He says high taxes and complex regulations are driving businesses out of the state.

Adviser George Schultz said that he, like Mr. Schwarzenegger, is worried about California. "The political process somehow has driven it into a ditch," he said. "And the first thing we need to do is straighten out the governmental process, get our governmental house in order, stop the hemorrhaging, get us back to health."

Mr. Schwarzenegger's other prominent adviser, Warren Buffett, sparked controversy recently by saying that California's property taxes are too low. In addition to angering conservatives, Mr. Buffet's comment also outraged many California homeowners, who launched a national tax revolt in 1978 by enacting a measure called Proposition 13.

The ballot measure placed a cap on property taxes, and Mr. Schwarzenegger said he supports it. "I am in principle against taxing because I feel that that the people of California have been punished enough, from the time they get up in the morning and flush the toilet, they're taxed. Then they go and get a coffee, they're taxed. They get into their car, they're taxed," he said. "They go to the gas station, they're taxed. They go for lunch, they're taxed. This goes on all day long."

As the actor was meeting with his economic advisers, another candidate, Peter Ueberroth, announced his plan to rebuild the state's finances. Mr. Ueberroth organized the successful 1984 Los Angeles summer Olympics and later became the commissioner of major league baseball in the United States.

A moderate Republican like Mr. Schwarzenegger, he says the state's prosperity depends on creating jobs. He also says he would grant delinquent taxpayers a one-time amnesty if they pay their taxes, which he says would generate $6 billion.

Of the 135 candidates who hope to unseat Gray Davis, Mr. Schwarzenegger has the greatest name recognition. He also has a fortune to spend on advertising. Wednesday, his first campaign ad began appearing on television, sounding a little like a promotion for one of the actor's movies.

The candidate has spent $1 million for his first week of television advertising.

Meanwhile, a federal judge said Wednesday the recall election will go ahead as planned October 7. He rejected a lawsuit that argued that old punch-card voting machines used in six California counties would lead to a flawed vote count. Officials of the American Civil Liberties Union, who filed the suit, said they will appeal the decision.