I didn't understand how Brown's promise to only sign an "all-cuts budget" would be a threat to Republicans. After all, isn't what they want? No tax extensions, more spending cuts...
So I asked our Sacramento Bureau Chief and inveterate budget-watcher John Myers what Brown was getting at.
1. Brown insists that he's willing to pursue only two options for erasing the projected $26 billion budget deficit: a blend of cuts, transfers, and taxes... or... a budget of only cuts and transfers with most of the deficit being erased by cuts. (That second option is what's commonly being called an "all-cuts" budget. It's close, but actually not $26 billion in literal cuts to programs.)
The governor says he won't agree to the well-known third option used at the Capitol in recent years: budget gimmicks.
The governor hasn't said exactly what additional cuts he'll propose if either the special election isn't called or if voters reject about $13 billion in extended taxes. But the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has offered a list of likely targets, a list requested by state Sen. Mark Leno (D-SF). That list includes deep cuts in K-12 education as well as additional deep cuts to the UC and CSU systems, social services, bond projects, and state worker salaries.
2. Republicans in the Legislature haven't put forward a comprehensive alternative plan to either the Brown budget or to the Democratic legislative budget (which is similar to Brown's in most respects). They have insisted the budget be balanced through less spending, but have yet to endorse any specific additional cuts.
Democrats say they don't think GOP legislators would actually vote for an "all- cuts" budget plan, but that remains to be seen. Suffice it to say, a large number of Democratic legislators wouldn't vote for it, either.
3. Bottom line: For weeks, Governor Brown has been challenging opponents of his budget plan to produce a comprehensive alternative. To be fair, there are some parts of his plan that Democrats have rejected but haven't fully filled with an alternative. But the biggest hurdle to both the plan... and Brown's goal of a June 7 statewide election on the tax extensions... remains GOP legislators.
And there's only about two weeks left to schedule a June election.
So, to boil it down even further:
Yeah, those do sound like "gimmicks." Remove the quotes.