We may never know for sure where the point of no return was passed in bipartisan budget talks this year, but it now seems clear that those talks are all but over and that Democrats have a majority vote plan in place to send to Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday.
No election in 2011, no immediate extension of hotly debated taxes, and -- in the wake of last fall's Proposition 25 -- no need for Republican legislators to be consulted.
The plan, described in detail by Assembly Democratic staffers, proposes to replace Brown's entire $10.8 billion revenue package with a mix of windfall revenues, additional cuts, and one-time solutions.
The Democratic legislative budget includes no debt repayment; reinstatement of Brown's original $2.85 billion deferral of money owed to K-12 schools and community colleges; an additional $300 million cut to higher education (shared equally by UC and CSU systems); an assumption that $2.2 billion from the sale of state buildings and from taking tobacco tax money from childhood programs survives court challenges; that the feds hand over $700 million to the state's Medi-Cal program; and that a complicated tax swap from years gone by is unwound, thus freeing up $900 million while canceling a quarter-cent of the sales tax decrease now scheduled to take effect on July 1.
Those are only some of the highlights, but ones that go a long way towards filling in the hole left by extracting the governor's revenues -- the only portions of the budget plan that were subject to a supermajority vote.