Governor Jerry Brown no doubt hopes the answer is yes, because Wednesday's old fashioned cajoling and browbeating failed to win over enough legislative support for the first round of bills in his $26.6 billion deficit fix.
The hump day of the week ended just before 9:30 p.m., when it apparently became clear that the last -- and most talked about -- bill that was supposed to pass the Assembly in round #1 would not: the governor's push to abolish redevelopment agencies and shift the money to other programs.
Redevelopment has been the true battle royale of a 2011 budget fight that's been full of dramatic and, for some, devastating proposals. Its supporters have warned of both economic stagnation and looming lawsuits, but have never offered an alternative that Brown would accept.
The governor spent much of Wednesday afternoon holed up in the office of Assembly Speaker John Perez, just a short walk from the green carpet of the Assembly floor. One by one, legislators were summoned to chat with Brown in private after the bill to nix redevelopment agencies (RDAs) initially stalled. The arm twisting apparently worked on Democrats, as the reluctant few who passed on casting a vote at first ultimately joined the majority on abolishing some 400 RDAs across the state.
But the governor needed 54 votes in the Assembly to actually get the property tax money now allocated to RDAs, and there are only 52 Dems in the lower house. His plan quickly drew the support of Republican Chris Norby, an Orange County assemblymember who's been a critic of redevelopment agencies longer than he's been in Sacramento. But try as he might, Governor Brown never got that last GOP vote for the plan. And that's where things ended.
A number of budget cutting bills were approved by both chambers -- including deep cuts to programs from welfare assistance to Medi-Cal to those for the developmentally disabled. Republicans agreed to provide the necessary supermajority for those proposals, but usually only after every single Democrat cast an 'aye' vote.
(Could those bills have been majority vote proposals, some wondered? No, came the answer from Dems, who offered explanations ranging from the current year cuts needing a supermajority 'urgency' clause to an insistence that GOP pols have some skin in the game, too.)
Assembly Republicans, in particular, took the position in floor debate that had Democrats only agreed to other changes, social programs would have been saved. Assemblymember Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) said Republicans would have preferred to find savings in public employee pensions and the expense of illegal immigration. Assemblymember Cameron Smyth (R-Santa Clarita) suggested halting bond sales or approving offshore drilling before cutting developmental disabilty services.
Dems dismissed such talk, with Assembly Budget Chair Bob Blumenfield (D-LA) likening it to the search for unicorns. And so the debate went on.
Reporters who caught up with the governor after it all went down offered quotes from Brown that sounded a bit exasperated. "There's some plan that the more things are derailed, the better it is," said the Guv in referring to GOP reluctance to strike a deal.
(Probably didn't help that Wednesday was First Lady Anne Gust Brown's birthday, where it looks like she had to settle for a cake at the office and no night on the town.)
Both houses will reconvene at 11:00 a.m. Thursday, whereupon we're told they'll start back at it. Of course, none of this resolves the larger, lingering problem: GOP refusal to go along with placing a tax extension on a June special statewide ballot. That $11 billion extension remains the key to the governor's entire deficit reduction package.
And some of the tax's supporters -- notably those who support programs that would be cut even further without the tax revenues -- are getting worried about even having that election. A private poll done for one education group found that while voters, on first blush, would go along with the tax extension... more were persuaded by a "politicians should cut wasteful spending" argument against the taxes than were a "even deeper cuts" argument for the taxes.
In other words, a well-funded opposition campaign to the taxes could easily doom the measure... which would mean a major loss for those counting on a win at the ballot box.
Everyone should get some rest. The next few days at the Capitol are likely to be long ones.