Here are comments on specific topics from Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman from Tuesday night's gubernatorial debate at the University of California, Davis.
— California's budget problems:
"We must start earlier on the budget. You know the governor puts out his budget in January, then nothing really much happens until the May revise. We need to start working on it earlier. There are some structural reforms we must do. We should go to a two-year budgeting cycle. This business of constantly having our backs against the wall, not having the ability to think longer-term than three to six months out, so those are two reforms I'd make right away." --Whitman.
"The budget mess is one of the key characteristics of how screwed up things are in Sacramento. Now, how do we get at that? First of all, you've got to live within your means. ... We had a boom, Wall Street was growing, dot-com and all that. Then it collapsed. Well, you've got to reset. Reset 15 percent, reset 18 percent. I'd authorize by my legal opinion an 18 percent reduction in the governor's salary, the Legislature's salary and my own. Now how do we get this thing going? You start the week after the election. That's what I'll do. I'll bring all 120 together. And I don't care if it takes 200 hours, 500 hours. I know that many of these legislators have no idea what's going on with the budget.
"They're sitting in the bleachers while these Big 5 — that's the top four legislative leaders and the governor and a couple of people working it all out behind closed doors. We need a transparent, exhaustive process." --Brown.
— Helping businesses and creating jobs:
Whitman said she has a plan to create 2 million private-sector jobs by 2015, by promoting targeted tax cuts for business startups and manufacturing, streamlining regulations and creating an economic-development team that would bring jobs to the state.
"We've got to examine every tax, every regulation and say are we competitive to neighboring states? Because without jobs, there is no way out of this. And we have to do a better job of keeping companies in California and making sure that we get the expansion opportunities, as well. No company should put a call center in Phoenix, Ariz.; they should put it in Fresno or Stockton." --Whitman
Brown said he would invest in the clean-energy industry and build new transmission lines for renewable power so California could become the leader in wind, solar and geothermal energy. He, too, said he would cut red tape to encourage new businesses.
"She has the values that if you just give it to Wall Street and business and follow the George Bush playbook, things will be well. But we've seen the results of that, and they're not very pretty. ... You can put people to work by retrofitting inefficient buildings of California by the hundreds of thousands." --Brown.
— On civic involvement:
"I'm not proud of my voting record, and I have apologized for it, and tonight I apologize to everyone in California. It was not the right thing to do and no one is more embarrassed by it than me, and if I could change history, I would. But what I can do is tell voters about how I believe we can turn this state around. This state is in an enormous mess. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for different results. We have to challenge the status quo in Sacramento." --Whitman
"Public service to me has meant a great deal from my earliest years. My father, when I was only 5 years old, was elected district attorney of San Francisco, and I watched him become attorney general and then governor. I care a great deal about public service. I think it's honorable, and I've lived in this state all my life. I love it and I've voted here all my life, and God willing I'll spend the rest of my life and die in this state."
— Pension reform:
Brown said he suggested creating a two-tiered pension system in 1982, his last year as governor. He proposes negotiating with labor unions to raise the retirement age, increasing employees' contributions and stopping pension spiking, a practice that inflates pensions by giving raises in employees' final years of service. He noted that as attorney general he is prosecuting officials in the Los Angeles County city of Bell for excessive pay.
"If everybody in state service worked as long as I have, the pension system would be overfunded by 50 percent, OK, and work until 72. By the way, if you elect me governor, I will not collect until I'm 76. And by my second term, I'll be 80. So I'm the best pension buy California has ever seen." --Brown.
Whitman proposes raising the retirement age from 55 to 65, increase vesting periods and making sure state employees contribute more. New employees would come under a 401(k)-style program, "much like everyone in the private sector does today."
"If your campaign is funded by those public employee unions, it's going to be extraordinarily difficult to negotiate, and we have got to stand up and be counted here. Today, the public employee pension system is underfunded by $60 (billion) to $100 billion. What that means is we owe more money than we can possibly pay, and you know who's on the hook for it? The taxpayers."
— On Brown's fiscal record:
Whitman criticized Brown for spending a $5 billion surplus and leaving the state with a deficit.
"Jerry Brown has experience raising taxes, increasing spending and not delivering on his promises. I think you have to just look at experience and say, 'What do we need?' And my view is we need a governor who knows how to get California back to work."
Brown said 1.9 million jobs were created during his eight years as governor and that his frugal fiscal policies led to a state surplus. The surplus ultimately was spent to bail out cash-strapped counties and cities after voters approved Proposition 13 in 1978, which slashed property taxes.
"By the way, that surplus didn't drop down from the tooth fairy. I created that damn thing. I had to veto bills, I had to fight with the legislators. I had a guy named Jesse Unruh, the treasurer, he called my surplus obscene. I had people reviling me because I wouldn't go along with their pay programs. Nobody is tougher with a buck than I am, make no mistake about it." --Brown.
— On higher education cuts and fee increases:
"I'll hold down the fees the best I can, but we're in a tough plight, and we're all going to have to sacrifice. But I'd say those at the top, those at the commanding heights of our economy, should tuck in their belts first.
"Look I'd love to roll back the fees. I'd love to have a freeze, but that would require the university becoming a lot more efficient than it is or the state finding billions of dollars that it doesn't yet have. One way or the other, we're going to protect UC." --Brown.
Whitman didn't say whether she would reduce student fees. Instead, she said she would cut the state work force, reform pensions and welfare to find extra money for higher education.
"I want to reduce costs of this government and take a billion dollars and put it back in the UC system. ... Every day I talk to children who are at UC who have to take the semester off. I ran into a young man the other day who couldn't go back to UC Berkeley because fees had gone up by 32 percent and his father had lost his job." --Whitman.
— On Brown's support from labor unions:
"In the last five years, the public employee unions and unions throughout California have spent over $300 million on politics in California so I'm up against a pretty big set of entrenched interests. But you know what? I think Californians are really smart. I don't think you can buy elections. I think Californians are too smart. What you can do is get your message out and tell Californians what your view is of the way forward, and that is what I have tried to do." --Whitman.
"When it comes to pay, whether it's professors, administrators, union members, I don't think there's anybody who has taken a more no-nonsense approach. I was legendary for my frugality. And yes, I want to repeat again, I believe I'm the only governor that vetoed the excessive pay raises of all the state employees. Not once, but twice." --Brown.
— Death penalty:
"The death penalty is a serious issue. I expressed my own preference that I'd rather have a society where we didn't have to use death as a punishment. That view and that preference was overruled by the Legislature and also by the people in an initiative, a ballot measure that passed. So, we have it so we've got to make it work. As attorney general, I've defended literally hundreds and hundreds of death penalty convictions.
"Having been attorney general, having been governor, I pledge to the people of this state I will faithfully carry out our law on executions, and I'll do it with compassion but I'll do it with great fidelity to the rule of law." --Brown.
"I am in support of the death penalty. I am for three strikes-and-you're out. I will appoint very conservative judges to the bench who will not legislate from the bench but will really interpret the constitution. I think this is a very big contrast between me and Jerry Brown because Jerry has a long, 40-year record of being quite liberal on crime." --Whitman.
Associated Press Writers Judy Lin and Samantha Young contributed to this report.