SAN FRANCISCO — Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Jones called for California to boost its ranks of National Guard troops and give them more incentives to continue serving.
The idea was part of an overall security plan offered Tuesday by Secretary of State Jones in a presentation before the California Public Policy Institute, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, nonpartisan think-tank.
Among dozens of components, Jones’ plan calls for the creation of a 1,000-person National Guard force to protect California and urges the Legislature to offer Guard members a fee waiver at state colleges and universities.
He also recommended that California create:
— A California office of homeland security that would work with existing state agencies to catalog just how many vehicles, helicopters and airplanes California can count on to transport people and supplies during crises, such as a terror attack.
— An advisory committee that would work with the FBI and other federal agencies to assess intelligence data and determine security recommendations.
— A task force that would identify high-risk and potential targets for terrorists, such as nuclear power plants and water facilities, and create strategies for defending them.
— A state health officer to assess public health threats and organize groups of doctors and health care workers with diverse areas of expertise that can respond quickly around the state.
“We, all of us, are going to be held accountable,” Jones said. “This plan will be the one after the disaster that people go back and say, ’Why didn’t you do this?”’
Jones said the plan would cost at least $40 million, though not all costs were factored in. He said the state could cut costs by using already existing equipment and services. Funding for other parts of the plan would come from the federal government.
Jones is vying with former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and businessman Bill Simon for the GOP nomination in the March primary. The winner will take on Gov. Gray Davis in November.
Public documents show that Jones, a long-time lawmaker and farmer from Fresno, has a fraction of the personal fortune of his opponents. Jones also has struggled to raise campaign donations — drawing about $2 million, including more than $500,000 in loans, according to campaign finance records.
A pair of recent statewide polls showed Riordan with a sizable lead over both Jones and Simon, and with a slight edge over Davis.
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