Politics & Government

Meg Whitman says she'd put pension cuts on ballot

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman said Monday that she would place pension cutbacks on the ballot if negotiations with state workers fail and would consider using her personal fortune not only to win office but to advance her agenda if elected.

Taking the issue to voters is "not my first choice," she told The Bee's editorial board. "But if we have to this is an issue we have got to take up."

The former eBay CEO and billionaire said she "possibly" would put her own money behind a ballot measure campaign.

"My preference would be to raise the money, would be to, you know, make sure that we had a broad constituency," she said.

Whitman also said the extension of collective bargaining rights to state workers in 1977 was "probably not a good thing."

Asked if she would try to revoke the law — a measure signed by her Democratic opponent, Jerry Brown, when he was first governor — Whitman said, "I won't take it off the table, but it wouldn't be the very first thing I do."

State employee unions have campaigned vigorously against Whitman, and her remarks Monday hinted at a possible re-match of the 2005 battle between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the unions. The California Nurses Association helped defeat several initiatives to overhaul state government that were championed by Schwarzenegger, who had boasted beforehand that he was "always kicking their butts."

Whitman has already demonstrated, however, that her wealth can alter the dynamic of an election. She has donated more than $119 million of her own money to her gubernatorial campaign, the most expensive self-funded effort in U.S. history.

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