OAKLAND -- Gov. Jerry Brown this afternoon offered a biblical foundation for his November ballot measure to raise taxes, saying the wealthiest Californians have been blessed with an increasing share of the population's income and can afford to pay more.
"For those who've been blessed the most, it's only right, and I think the way to go to say, 'Give some back temporarily, for the next seven years, until our economy finally gets back,' " Brown said at a news conference in Oakland, where he accepted a $1 million contribution to his tax campaign from the influential California Nurses Association.
Later, the Democratic governor invoked the New Testament explicitly.
"Those who we're asking to pay more, I think they can," he said. "And I think it says in the New Testament, 'For those whom much is given, much will be asked,' and that's what we're doing today."
Brown's Proposition 30 proposes to impose income tax increases on Californians earning more than $250,000 a year. The measure also proposes to raise the statewide sales tax, affecting far more than the state's wealthiest class.
The nurses union was a major supporter of Brown during his gubernatorial campaign in 2010, memorably portraying his opponent, billionaire Meg Whitman, as "Queen Meg."
Earlier this year, Brown and the nurses union were at odds in a dispute among Democrats and their liberal allies about tax measures. The union supported a competing effort by the California Federation of Teachers to raise income taxes on Californians earning more than $1 million. That was before Brown and the teachers union merged their initiatives.
One rival measure, Proposition 38, remains on the November ballot. Molly Munger's proposal would raise income taxes on all but California's lowest earners. The wealthy civil rights lawyer dropped another $5 million into the campaign on Wednesday.
Brown's appearance came with questions lingering at the Capitol about the oversight of state parks money and other special funds. Brown said the administration is "on it" and would make a report Friday.
Brown said his governorship is "why it came to light," and he took a halfhearted shot at Munger.
"If Molly had been there, we still wouldn't know about it," Brown said, then paused and added, "Maybe."