Gov. Jerry Brown defended his Proposition 30 campaign's focus on schools and not the state budget in a one-on-one interview Thursday, and said he won't agree to any do-over of $6 billion in automatic cuts should the initiative fail.
"I'm not going down that road.," said Brown in an interview in his Capitol office. "There's only, yes, we get the money...or, no, we have the trigger cuts. It's that simple."
Brown earlier was back on the campaign trail for his temporary tax increase initiative, urging students at Sacramento City College to get on board and help stave off deep cuts to education.
"This Proposition 30 is not only crucial to you," Brown told the students in an outdoor rally. "It's also crucial to us as a state."
But the governor went on to tell the students the importance of the initiative's impact on all of the "stuff" the state budget spends money. And that remains a key question, one opponents have highlighted: is the measure really about schools... or about is it helping balance general state government finances?
In the later interview, Brown dismissed those who see the two issues as separate.
"People say, 'Put the money over here'," said the governor. "Well, there is no 'over here.' There is the public sector. And the public sector finances our common work together, whether it's roads or schools or prisons."
Brown also addressed reports of a lawsuit filed Thursday against the Cal State University System, after a CSU-Monterey Bay group of faculty used their government issued email to urge passage of the political measure. CSU's chief counsel issued a statement calling the email "inappropriate" and one that "crossed that line" for political advocacy.
The governor agrees that there's a line, but also sounded as though there's wide latitude.
"I think the universities, under the law, can also say, 'Here is what happens, here's an honest accounting. If you vote yes this is what happens, if you vote no,'" said Brown. "That's just the truth. I don't think we have to conceal truthful matters."
As for the recent campaign battle between his team and the K-12 income tax initiative, philanthropist Molly Munger's Proposition 38, Brown said he has no interest in any further squabbles.
The wide-ranging interview also included a spirited defense of his decision to push for, and sign into law, the initial $2.6 billion of state borrowing for high speed rail.
"You've got to remember that it isn't all just tightening the belt," said Brown. "We've got to invest in the future," likening it to everything from federal funding for the current Mars expeditions to the slow building of European cathedrals by generations in centuries past.
"You have to have a faith and a belief that together, we can build the monuments that will make our society better," he said. "And I think the high speed rail fits into that category."
Brown continues his campaign for Prop 30 on Friday in Los Angeles, and said the campaign's internal polls continue to show the initiative with a small but steady lead.