Gov. Jerry Brown has defined himself as a careful fiscal steward, wary of taking on more debt.

Those have been his words, at least. But his actions – or lack thereof – encourage borrowing.

To put it more bluntly, Brown’s excessive frugality (he brags about being cheap) fuels debt.

Brown has been reluctant to raise taxes in office. He raised income and sales taxes temporarily and only with voter approval; his recent road package makes only relatively small increases to gas taxes. Even with his party controlling two-thirds of the legislature for stretches, he hasn’t moved for tax increases. And he’s called tax reform too difficult and unrealistic.

More taxes – or even better, tax reform that produces more and more predictable revenue streams for the state – would be the best way to discourage debt. But Brown takes taxes off the table in most cases and is reluctant to spend too much. Indeed, big swaths of the state are starved for money – the universities, health programs, prisons. Even schools, after increases, aren’t at the national average in per-pupil spending.

This scarcity encourages interest groups and other levels of government to look elsewhere for money.

And the easiest way to do that in California is to borrow. Because getting a majority of voters to borrow is far easier than getting supermajorities in the legislature to raise taxes, or supermajorities of local voters to approve a tax hike.

Last November’s $9 billion school construction bond is a classic case. Brown didn’t want the borrowing, and he criticized the way such school bonds work. But he didn’t offer other ways of raising money, and so developers and school districts went to borrow. Voters went along. And at the local level, borrowing continues apace.

Here’s hoping that, to limit borrowing, Brown embraces tax reform and more spending in his remaining time in office. Pay now, Jerry, or we will all pay more interest later.