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In his first public remarks about the California state parks scandal, Gov. Jerry Brown downplayed its significance this morning, suggesting it was better to find nearly $54 million in apparently hidden money than to discover money missing.

"This is the first problem I've ever seen where actually people in government saved money, and that's good, because we have the money and we can use it," Brown told reporters in Sacramento. "How the heck it happened, we're trying to figure it out. And we will figure it out. We're looking at all the special funds."

The Brown administration revealed Friday that the Department of Parks and Recreation had been sitting on a surplus even as the state moved to close parks. Brown that day called for an investigation.

This morning, the Democratic governor said California's larger problem is reducing state debt.

"When somebody comes and says, 'Hey, guess what, we have some money over here,' well, that's better than saying, 'Whoops, we don't have the money,' " he said.

The state usually concerns itself with controlling misspending and overspending, not departments failing to spend money they have, he added.

"That's a new one," Brown said, "and we'll work on it."

But, he added, "More money is better than less money."


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