Hoping to tap into Orange County's strongly conservative voter sentiment, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Unz returned here Wednesday night and promised a complete elimination of the state workers' compensation system.
During a meeting of the Orange County Young Republicans, Unz said Gov. Pete Wilson's attempt to reform the workers' compensation system "was simply putting a Band-Aid on cancer."
The hourlong discussion sometimes drew skeptical questions from the audience of about 60. But Unz maintained that even though employers pay for workers' compensation, doing away with it would eliminate an estimated annual cost of $1,000 per worker, and that money could end up in the hands of the employees.
He conceded it was a radical proposal that probably would have to be implemented through a statewide initiative, but to not do so would further cripple the state's economy, he said. Currently, Unz added, trial lawyers and those who file fraudulent claims are the primary beneficiaries of the system.
"No welfare for the poor, and no welfare for the rich," said the 32-year-old owner of a Silicon Valley computer software company who is running as the conservative alternative to Wilson in the June 7 Republican primary.
When asked how those with legitimate claims could be served, Unz responded that with the extra money going back to the workers, they can buy extra insurance to cover their needs.
Unz also said he supports judicial reforms that would require the loser in a lawsuit to pay the costs incurred by the winner, to discourage the filing of frivolous lawsuits.
Unz said Wednesday that he had not completed his study of some issues and next week would release a plan to cut the state's welfare programs, which he said are "magnets" for legal and illegal immigration.
Unz frequently spoke of returning California to the way it was in the 1960s, which he called a "paradise on Earth." Using public schools as an example, he said: "What we have done is take the worst aspect of the legacy of the 1960s--New Age psychobabble, political correctness, ethnic consciousness--and made that the fundamental core of our public educational system."