Neel Kashkari, a Laguna Beach Republican running for governor in the June 3 primary, expressed support Saturday for a proposal by Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown to strengthen California's "rainy day fund" and accelerate the state's repayment of debt.
Kashkari told reporters at a campaign stop in Thousand Oaks that Brown's plan was "a small incremental step in the right direction." He urged Republican lawmakers to approve it without insisting on adjustments.
"I'm definitely in the camp of don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good," he said.
Kashkari's remarks were a rare gesture of support for a Brown initiative, underscoring the challenge that Republicans face in preventing the governor from being reelected in light of the state's fiscal recovery.
Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs banker and senior U.S. Treasury Department official, often blames Brown for the economic troubles of California's middle class. Even as he spoke favorably of Brown's fiscal proposal Saturday, Kashkari accused the governor of failing to address "the much bigger issue of the massive unfunded liabilities."
On Friday, Brown lamented the difficulty of dealing with those liabilities at a sustainability conference at the Getty Museum in Brentwood. Brown also made his case for the fiscal proposal, saying it would help stabilize California's volatile finances by providing a cushion against multibillion-dollar swings in the collection of capital gains tax as markets rise and fall.
"There's only so much money that we have, and only so much money ultimately the taxpayers are going to make available, so we do have to live within those limits," Brown told the audience at the Getty.
Brown needs the votes of Republican state senators in order to place his fiscal proposal on the November ballot. Republican lawmakers have expressed support for the concept of the reserve fund but also voiced concerns about potential loopholes.
Dan Newman, an advisor to Brown's reelection campaign, reacted to Kashkari's remarks by emailing a link to an article on Kashkari's low poll rankings among Republican gubernatorial candidates.