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Governor Gray Davis Speaks Out

Aired November 2, 2001 - 16:54   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Gray Davis is now speaking out in Los Angeles, in Burbank, actually, about these latest threats. Let's listen in.

GOV. GRAY DAVIS (D), CALIFORNIA: ... to get people traveling again, and we're prepared to increase the $5 million we have already allocated for advertising within the state to a larger number. That money will go further if we can coordinate our efforts with the private sector, so we can agree on the message and we share the financial burden.

It is in everyone's interest to have people get on a plane or get in a car to visit their relatives over the holidays. If you are in Northern California, come down to Disneyland or Sea World. If you are in Southern California, go out to the Monterey Bay Aquarium or Fisherman's Wharf. Just enjoy the wonders of this magnificent state. So we have -- we are very committed to doing that.

Also, there was a good deal of talk about branding California. I clearly agree with Michael Eisner that there is something distinctive about this state that needs to be communicated not just to people in the state but to our neighbors west of the Rockies and to folks from Mexico, Asia and around the world. We cannot just depend on the Rose Bowl, the sunshine and word of mouth, particularly when Florida spends $67 million, other big states spend $50 million or $60 million, we spend only $13 million. That is simply not enough to sell the wonders of this state.

Many times throughout the meeting today there was discussion about the value of using bonds to finance important long-term objectives. Take advantage of the very low interest rates, these would be bonds for schools, housing, other forms that needed infrastructure. Without committing to a specific amount or types of bonds, I am impressed with the need to do something like that to get our economy moving again and to take advantage of these historically low interest rates.

Another thing that was mentioned that I very much support, by Arturo Rodriguez, the head of the farm workers, is to promote our Buy California program. This is a program to encourage people to consume California produce and products grown in this state. Particularly today, when people are concerned about food safety and health, knowing that a product was grown in California is a very reassuring fact. California has the highest environmental and health standards in the country, maybe the world, and consumer will be reassured to know that a product they are about to buy was grown in our state and had to pass those very rigorous standards.

We have already put up $67 million for that. The federal government has put up about 12 million, and we are expecting a like amount from agriculture, and then that program will begin.

Finally, as I said at the outset, the most encouraging thing to me was that people were willing to sit through the session and hear lots of other points of view. Everyone recognized that we can only make progress if we move forward together, we find some common grounds. And I'm grateful to all the constitutional officers who came, I'm grateful to the bipartisan representation from the legislation with the Speaker Hertzberg and Senator Brulte and the Assembly leader Cox from the Assembly.

So I think it was a very good meeting, a very good beginning. One of the suggestions was that we have more of these meetings, and I certainly intend to do that. I don't know how often we can depend on Michael Eisner for a soundstage, but maybe we can come back at least one more time and we will find someone else to give us shelter, as I said in the room.

So with that, we'll be happy to take questions. First, if there is any questions on the economic summit, and then I know there will be questions on other subjects. Yes, sir?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) for increasing its spending. What was your -- what was your reaction to these calls on the California budget?

DAVIS: I thought a good point was made by Art Pulaski, the executive secretary of AFL-CIO. We ought to have some accountability accompanying any tax breaks in these difficult times. We need to know we get a bang for our buck, a return on our investment.

And so if, in fact, the legislature and I can agree on areas in which we want to provide tax relief, there ought to be strict accountability to ensure we are getting new jobs and new investment as a result of that tax credit.

We are still on the economic summit. Mitchell (ph).

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) $5 million. You said -- you mentioned the increase of $5 million. Do you have a dollar amount in mind?

DAVIS: No, because what I want to do is have a discussion with the hospitality industry to see if they are willing to match me and to see if we can agree on the message. Whatever amount we spend, the message will not reach enough people unless it is reinforced by hotels, destination spots, airlines, rental car companies, basically echoing the same message.

So, we need a theme, not unlike the "I Love New York" campaign of years ago. We need a theme that resonates with everybody. So, I'm prepared to do more. The amount we'll put up has everything to do with willingness to jointly participate on the part of industry, and I'm confident they'll be willing to do that.

BLITZER: Governor Gray Davis of California taking questions from reporters on the economic issues facing California right now. We expect him to be taking some questions on the latest terrorist threat facing those bridges out in California. When he does, we will return to his news conference.

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