You're a political novice and I'm wondering why you think someone like you who has, as far as I know, no experience in government is …
Hold on Scott. I ran for a fifth-grade class president and I carried three out of four rows! I'm going to get a guy named William Moore. They're still cleaning up the blood!
Seriously though, Ronald Reagan had no experience. He was a great governor. And this governor was what, mayor? He was lieutenant governor for eight years and has been governor for two years. And look at what he's done. So experience with our common sense and good judgment is pretty useless in my opinion.
The last governor who had no experience governing was Arnold Schwarzenegger. How do you think he did as governor?
I thought he was lousy, a disaster. I felt that if he had put the hammer down when he got elected, he could have done something. He could have reined in some of these expenses. And then he shifted left, became a “green guy," became an environmental climate change alarmist. I don't know what the hell happened to him, but I was very disappointed in him and I was disappointed that I encouraged people to vote for him. Looking back at it. I wish I supported somebody like Tom McClintock. He was a disaster. He didn’t have to be.
You used the phrase “climate change alarmist.” I mean, if you were governor, what changes would you make to California's policies around lowering carbon emissions and that kind of thing?
Well, I don't want bad air, I don't want to drink bad water. And I’m OK with reasonable environmental standards, but everything has a trade-off. California is just one state. Meanwhile, India and China are still putting out all sorts of bad stuff. I don't understand why Californians are the canary in the coal mine on the issue of climate change, when no matter what we do, it's not going to have any real measurable effect on the climate in the country and the climate in the world. It’s ridiculous.
You and the other Republicans running for governor have been very critical of Gavin Newsom the way he's handled the pandemic. But we have the lowest or one of the lowest COVID rates in the country. We have one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. Would you say that some of that economic pain was worth it given where we are today on the pandemic?
No, I don’t. I think he did not follow science. He shut down the schools, even though the CDC said schools could open. We lost an entire year of education because of the way in which he shut down schools against science. And I think people are stupid. I don't want to catch COVID, I got my shots. You don't have to tell people what to do this way. I think businesses could have reasonably remained open with precautions.
I just don't believe you had to lock down the state the way he did.
So this governor made a lot of mistakes. I think what you tell people, give people the truth, give people the science, and allow people to make their own decisions, treat people like adults. He didn't. He treated us like children.
What would you as governor do in terms of encouraging people to get vaccinated?
I would tell people that I, Larry, got vaccinated. The studies show that people who are vaccinated are less likely to contract coronavirus and then leave it up to them. I think they ought to be able to weigh the costs and benefits of that for their own individual lives.
Turning to the budget, the $263 billion budget, That's a big document. But big picture — are the priorities, wrong or right, from your perspective?
Well, it isn't so much that the budget is too big, it's that the vision of our politicians in Sacramento is too small. We are under-investing, investing in the state.
We haven't had any significant additions to the structure for water, underground storage, that kind of thing when it rains, in almost 40 years.
We have this CEQA, California Environmental Control (sic) Act that basically allows anybody to stop anything for any reason for an indefinite period of time. And as a result, we're not investing properly in our state's infrastructure.
I would declare a statewide emergency and suspend some of the CEQA laws so that we can encourage the construction of not only homes, but also the construction of more infrastructure. I believe droughts are God-made, but shortages are man-made. We should be planning better and we're not doing it.
If you were to become governor, you would still have to deal with a supermajority Democratic legislature. How would you navigate that? How would you get anything done?
This governor has been quite generous in issuing executive orders by claiming that coronavirus is a statewide emergency. And I would use some of those same powers. But also, there's a big thing called the bully pulpit. If I am elected governor, it will be because a whole bunch of people, including independents and Democrats, got fed up with this governor and have changed their mind. And I believe that I can make the argument that there's a connection between rising cost of living and bad government policies in Sacramento, there’s a connection between rising crime and bad policies in Sacramento. There's a connection between homelessness and bad policies in Sacramento. And if I can do that, they'll put pressure on their politicians to go along with some of the ideas that I have.
What would you do if you were king for a day or had executive authority? How would you change the policies that exist now?
I would look at rolling back the gas tax. And I would look again at all of the construction projects that have been stopped as a result. Environmentalists who claim that this, that, or the other is going to endanger this species or that species, because, again, we have to look at tradeoffs. We have to look at jobs. We have to look at the high cost of living that is higher and higher because we basically have stopped virtually any project for any reason. Because of all these environmental regulations, we are chasing away the young people for the first time in our state's history. And I would do something about that by using my emergency powers to suspend some of these rules that supposedly keep our environment pristine but also cost us jobs.