Exactly three months after announcing  he would switch from the U.S. Senate race to the governor’s race, Tom Foley, held his first Capitol press conference.

“This is a press conference. I’m sorry that the last time I was with you there was a misunderstanding about the format,” Foley joked as he opened the press conference.

He said he called the press conference to talk about his concerns regarding jobs and “out of control spending in Hartford.”

At the outset Foley said he believes the state should be looking to cut $1 billion in spending, however, as the press conference progressed he only specifically identified about $190 million in cuts that he would make.

“I don’t agree though with those who say everything should be on the table. The governor and legislature should agree at the outset that expense reductions won’t be made at the expense of our children’s futures or our most needy citizens,” Foley said.

Some of the spending reductions Foley would make include discontinuing the Citizens’ Election Program, which makes public grants to candidates who meet the qualifications of the clean elections program. Foley says the state could save $60 million by ending the program.

He also advocated for shifting state services to private contractors to save the state money. He said private providers have said they can provide similar services to Riverview Hospital clients and save the state $40 million.

It’s unclear exactly where those savings may come from since the state would be unable to lay off any of the displaced workers until the end of fiscal year 2011.

Foley said he also thinks the state legislature should be working to roll back some of the close to 60 health insurance mandates it requires companies to cover in the state. When pressed he wouldn’t say exactly which ones he would support eliminating.

He also mentioned closing Southbury Training School for the intellectually disabled and moving the patients there to a community based setting for a savings of about $90 million.

Altogether Foley identified about $190 million in savings, out of the $1 billion he advocated cutting.

He also distanced himself from Gov. M. Jodi Rell on several issues. “She’s done a great job during difficult circumstances,” Foley said. He said he would have vetoed the two-year budget proposal she allowed to become law without her signature and didn’t approve of her proposal to create a Keno lottery game, so that the state has a stream of revenue to borrow against. He said focusing on new revenue streams is simply a distraction.

But he heaped most of the blame on the legislature’s Democratic-majority, saying they’ve been unwilling to even talk about the magnitude of the problem.

Foley is one of six Republicans seeking the nomination. The other candidates include Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, Oz Griebel, Chester First Selectman Tom Marsh, Newington Mayor Jeff Wright, and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.