"California is at a tipping point. Our finances are bankrupt. Much of our society's infrastructure—the roads, the ports, the water delivery systems—is at the breaking point," she said.
Whitman, 53, said she would cut 40,000 jobs from the state government payroll and reduce state spending by another $15 billion. That would come on top of the 18 percent cut made to the general fund over the last two years.
Some taxes also need to be cut to stimulate growth, she said, without detailing which ones.
Whitman was vague about what state programs she would cut or what employees she would eliminate to meet her goals. That prompted criticism from her rivals for the 2010 Republican nomination.
Former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell noted that he released a specific budget plan at the height of California's fiscal crisis earlier this year in which he detailed $17.4 billion in cuts.
"It is disappointing that more than four months later, and after a budget deal has been reached, Meg Whitman has still not announced specific spending cuts, except her proposal to fire state employees, which would save only a small fraction of what's needed to close the budget gap," Campbell, 57, said in a statement Tuesday.
The gubernatorial campaign for Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner also criticized her lack of specifics. Poizner, 52, released a detailed tax plan last week that said he would reduce personal, corporate and sales taxes by 10 percent and cut the capital gains tax in half.
"Meg can't stop announcing she is running for governor, and Jerry Brown won't announce he is running for governor," said Jarrod Agen, a spokesman for Poizner.
Brown, a former California governor who is now the state's attorney general, has hinted that he may seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2010.
"What would really benefit the citizens of California is if they would start announcing real solutions to the problems the state faces," Agen said Tuesday.
Whitman's formal announcement was expected after months of fundraisers and campaign-style appearances around the state. A billionaire, she also has contributed $19 million of her fortune to her campaign efforts.