meg_whitman.jpgSpeaking before Cisco Systems Inc. employees in San Jose Wednesday morning, Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman said she would focus like a laser on jobs, government spending and education if elected.

Whitman was invited to speak as part of the company’s “Future of California” forum series a day after she and state attorney general and democratic candidate Jerry Brown went head-to-head in their first gubernatorial debate hosted at the University of California, Davis.

Whitman, a billionaire who formerly headed eBay, has contributed a record $119 million of her own money to her campaign.

She maintained her focus would be addressing the state’s 12.3 percent unemployment rate.

“If we don’t put Californians back to work, there is no way out of this mess,” Whitman said.

She said her plan is to make California competitive again, which would involve tax cuts and bureaucratic streamlining.

Whitman’s second priority is controlling government spending, she said.

“We are not running this government efficiently and effectively,” she said. “The technology in Sacramento belongs in a museum.”

She said she would minimize spending by renegotiating pension benefits of public employees and reforming the welfare program.

She also said she would increase spending in classrooms and the number of charter schools, implement a grading system similar to public schools in Florida, and increase the salaries of good teachers.

Today, Nicky Diaz-Santillan, Whitman’s longtime housekeeper, and her attorney, Gloria Allred, publicly alleged that Whitman employed Diaz-Santillan for nine years knowing that she was an illegal immigrant.

Whitman released a statement in response saying she is “deeply worried about Nicky and her family.”

“I believe Nicky is being manipulated by Gloria Allred for political and financial purposes during the last few weeks of a hotly contested election,” Whitman said. “This is a shameful example of the politics of personal destruction.”

Brown announced Wednesday that he is participating in campaign rallies with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and former President Bill Clinton in Los Angeles and San Jose in mid October.

Khalida Sarwari, Bay City News

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