And so it was today as well, as Governor Jerry Brown mused on his chances for a budget deal and, on the issue of symbolic cuts, seems to have invented a new word.
Today's target: the various knicknacks and tchotchkes handed out by state agencies as souvenirs.
"You know, these are nice things," said Brown with a convenient display of mugs, frisbees, even a battery powered fan sitting in front of him. "But at the end of the day, I think this kind of tangibilitizing, whatever people are trying to do, is not needed, and sends a bad message."
Yes, "tangibilitizing"... just a way of showing that both old-school Democrats and newcomer Republicans create their own lingo in the course of things.
Brown's kibosh on 'swag' comes on the heels of his quest to turn off cell phones and rein in the state vehicle fleet... all part of a well-orchestrated campaign to show some thriftiness in advance of what he hopes will be a June special election on $11 billion in taxes.
The key phrase there being, "he hopes."
Republicans in the Legislature remain the key hurdle in that quest, with one GOP leader opining this week that the tax election idea is probably dead -- for now.
The governor, though, continued to express optimism today. "I want to push this to a conclusion that will pass the ultimate test," he said. "And that's the voters."
A quick video clip (yes, I'll turn the camera the correct way next time!):
Brown also hinted that he may be warming up to the idea of showing what a $26 billion all-spending-reductions budget would look like, something he called a few weeks ago just too ugly to even discuss in polite company. Perhaps this too would be a, ahem, "tangibilitizing" of the state's woes?
Asked about the list Democrats asked the Legislative Analyst's Office to prepare of additional cuts, the governor called them "reasonable alternatives" of what would happen.
"I may even put out some of my own to clarify what the choice is," he said. Brown reminded everyone that the list would no doubt include cuts to public safety and higher education.
I then asked the governor about another idea bandied about in the Capitol, one he's avoided so far... and that's to have the Legislature vote on an all-spending-reductions proposal now, with voters being given the option to roll back some of those cuts by approving extensions of soon-to-expire sales, income, and car taxes.
"That's a fine idea," he said, "but it may not be one they will vote on."
By "they," he likely means Democrats in the Legislature. So far, the majority party has -- through budget committees -- put up the votes for about $12 billion in reduced spending. But yes, $26 billion would be a tough fight inside Brown's own party.Meantime, Senate Democrats are ramping up their rhetoric about Republicans refusing to put the tax question to the voters.
"It is now time for the entire Legislature," said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Sreinberg, "to allow the people a voice, to allow the people a right to vote."
Steinberg's photocopied sign -- and he says we'll see more of this -- only reinforces the sense that the true heavy lifting of the 2011 budget saga remains still sitting there, waiting to be heaved upward... the same place it sat when Jerry Brown took office almost eight weeks ago.
A quick clip of Steinberg on what the public expects: