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The race for California governor: Poizner says slash taxes

Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner speaks with business owners as part of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce's California Candidates Series on September 15, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner speaks with business owners as part of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce's California Candidates Series on September 15, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.
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The California Republican Party opens its semi-annual convention Friday in Indian Wells, near Palm Springs. It’s an opportunity for the GOP rank and file to take a closer look at three candidates who seek the party’s nomination for governor next year. KPCC's Frank Stoltze has the last of our profiles of those candidates.

Frank Stoltze: Across the county this year, television viewers watched as California sank deeper into debt.

CNBC announcer: All right, who can save California? Thank you Mr. Poizner for coming on.
Steve Poizner: Thank you, Larry.

Stoltze: Lately, candidates for governor appeared on CNBC with some answers to the state’s problems. California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner called for dramatic tax cuts.

Poizner: Ten percent cut in personal income tax, 10 percent cut in corporate income tax, a 10 percent cut in sales tax, and a 50 percent cut in the capital gains rate. We’ll get jobs to come back to California. That’s how we’ll balance the budget.

Stoltze: In a later interview, Poizner dismissed concerns that tax cuts would plunge the state even deeper into the red. He said he subscribes to President Reagan’s approach to the economy.

Poizner: He cut tax rates significantly and there was a quick and immediate positive impact – total federal tax revenues went up. This is the essential concept, centerpiece of my whole campaign.

Stoltze: For two decades, Poizner was a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He started and sold two high-tech companies. His net worth’s been estimated at close to a billion dollars.

Poizner served in President Bush’s Office of Cyberspace Security at the National Security Council before he started a group that lobbies for charter schools, and won his statewide race for insurance commissioner. Poizner says he’s cut his department’s budget by 15 percent.

Like the two other Republican candidates for governor, former eBay chief Meg Whitman and ex-Congressman Tom Campbell, Poizner supports abortion rights.

Poizner: For some Republicans who really care about family values as their number one priority, I’ve convinced many of them that the most important family value is to make sure that people can make ends meet.

Stoltze: On CNBC, Poizner said he intends to roll back regulations on businesses – including a greenhouse gas law known as AB32.

Poizner: Now I care about the environment. I have solar cells on my roof. We’re going to protect the environment here in California, but the rules are so extreme here, all that it ends up doing is to kill jobs and pushes manufacturing to the Midwest.

Stoltze: Whitman holds a similar position. Fifty-two-year-old Poizner, who holds a black belt in karate, recalled why he entered politics.

Poizner: My first experience in a political process was right after I graduated from Stanford business school.

Stoltze: He headed the Palo Alto chapter of the Junior Chamber of Commerce when it admitted women, in defiance of national rules.

Poizner: We put together a political campaign – this was my first taste of what a small group of passionate people can do – and we fought back and fought back hard. And a group of us from around the country took the case all the way up to the U.S Supreme Court.

Stoltze: They won in a unanimous 1984 ruling. Poizner pledged that he’d fight hard again for the Republican nomination for governor. He echoed Whitman’s determination to “spend what it takes” from his personal wealth to get his message out.