TORRANCE (— Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday defended his ballot initiative to raise taxes for California’s highest earners.

Proposition 30, which would raise taxes for those falling under certain higher income brackets, came under fire in the wake of the $54 million state parks funding scandal. Until recently, the millions of surplus dollars were hidden from state auditors.

At an event in Torrance, CBS2’s Dave Bryan asked Brown how he could ask Californian’s to vote for a tax increase and believe the state will handle that money wisely.

“We’re never going to be free from problems,” said Brown. “You, your television, your newspaper, the churches, we all have flaws, but the beautiful thing is when we find them, we acknowledge them and we fix things up. At my age, I didn’t come here to screw around.”

State Assembly Budget Committee chairman Bob Blumenfield, a Democrat from Van Nuys, was not nearly as charitable as Brown when describing the scandal’s impact on public confidence.

“Many of us here today feel betrayed. It’s our constitutional duty as legislators to craft the state budget. And the credibility of this year’s budget has been tarnished,” he said.

Brown argued the November vote on Proposition 30 is a choice between taxing the rich or taking the money out of California public schools and universities.

It’s not a referendum on the state parks scandal.

Brown fell just short of threatening to put another proposition on a future ballot if Democrats in the state legislature don’t reach a pension reform deal this month.

“They got to put their shoulder to the plow here,” said Brown. “Pension reform is very important. It’s coming one way or the other. It’s coming by the legislature or it’s coming by initiative.”

Bryan asked if Brown would spearhead an initiative to put pension reform on the ballot if it doesn’t come through the legislature.

“I’ve pledged that I’ll see pension reform as governor. I don’t want to issue any ultimatums when we’re in the middle of negotiations,” he said.

Brown also responded to a comment GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney made this week, lumping in California with the failed economies of Europe.

“That’s just silly,” said Brown. “We’re a state that generated $1.8 trillion last year, an increase of $9 billion. We’re one of the richest economies in the world.”


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