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Ueberroth outlines economic plan for California

Former Olympics chairman seeks to replace Davis

From Stan Wilson
CNN Los Angeles Bureau

Republican Peter Ueberroth is one of 135 candidates seeking to replace California Gov. Gray Davis.
Republican Peter Ueberroth is one of 135 candidates seeking to replace California Gov. Gray Davis.

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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Businessman Peter Ueberroth formally kicked off his gubernatorial campaign in California Wednesday, offering up an economic plan that focuses on tax amnesty, spending cuts and protecting a voter-imposed cap on property tax rates.

"The state is out of control, the state is on a spending binge, the state has to stop putting itself in a hole that's getting deeper and deeper and deeper," Ueberroth said during a news conference where he outlined his budget proposal.

"If elected, I would impose stiff spending caps to rein in the out-of-control spending."

Ueberroth is one of 135 candidates seeking to replace embattled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. Voters will decide October 7 whether to recall Davis and, if so, who should replace him in the governor's office.

Ueberroth, a Republican who chaired the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and served as Major League Baseball commissioner from 1985 to 1989, proposed a one-time state tax amnesty, which would encourage people to pay overdue taxes by not assessing legal penalties.

He highlighted the amnesty tax as the centerpiece of his short-term plan to close California's budget deficit, predicting it would generate up to $6 billion in revenue.

As governor, he said, he also would protect California taxpayers and homeowners from any change in Proposition 13, which sets a cap on property taxes. A lift on tax caps would drive down property values and increase taxes, he said.

Ueberroth cited his 40 years as a businessman in California and his success in organizing the Olympic Games, claiming it still generates revenue in Southern California.

"I've uniquely experienced having seen California at its best and its worst, " he said. "Obviously the Olympics were some of the best, and the riots were some of the worst."

Ueberroth was appointed to lead the rebuilding efforts of South Central Los Angeles following the riots in 1992. Many businesses have never returned to the area.

On fiscal spending, Ueberroth proposed cutting up to $2 billion in the general fund by imposing a hiring freeze on state employees -- which he said would save $200 million to $400 million -- and eliminating MediCal fraud, saving about $1.5 billion.

In campaigning for governor, Ueberroth vowed to refrain from negative attacks on his opponents and said he will use at least $1 million of his own money to campaign. Asked whether he thinks Arnold Schwarzenegger is qualified to be governor, Ueberroth said everyone on the ballot should be entitled to run but declined to characterize his qualifications or those of other candidates.

He pledged that if elected he would serve only the remainder of Gov. Gray Davis' second term and would accept no paid salary for the state's top job.

"It's the first expense I'll cut," said Ueberroth.

"In this campaign, I will hold to three principles: Truth, substance and specifics. Because the people of California deserve nothing less," he said. "In Sacramento, everybody has a special interest they deal with. I will fight to create jobs for Californians, that's my special interest."

As part of his campaign, Ueberroth plans to hold a series of town hall meetings with small businesses, offering tax relief incentives and economic growth in California by emphasizing stronger ties with Mexico, China and other Pacific Rim nations.

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