Brown declined to discuss Senate Bill 490, which would put the question of whether to retain capital punishment before voters in November 2012.
But he said that, in general, "When we have deep, troublesome issues that create gridlock in the Legislature, going back to the people can be a way to break the gridlock."
The bill's prospects are highly uncertain. A Field Poll last year found that 70 percent of Californians support the death penalty.
Brown, a Democrat, vetoed death penalty legislation when he was governor in 1977, but his veto was overridden by the Legislature. He enforced the death penalty as state attorney general and said he would uphold it as governor, despite personal reservations.
"As with most bills, I don't comment until I get it," Brown said at a news conference at which he discussed jobs and a tax measure. "But I'm certainly not going to answer that and destroy my whole jobs press conference."
PHOTO CREDIT: Shown is a witness gallery inside the new lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010. (AP Photo/ Eric Risberg)