But what's crystal clear is that Brown has abandoned his gentle prodding of GOP legislators, resorting instead to jabs and attacks that seem to symbolize a sense of urgency at salvaging the budget plan that has dominated his first 100 days in office.
The governor made his frustration plainly clear at a midday event on the Capitol steps, an annual event for the families of crime victims. Brown was ad libbing on the need for effective punishment, including parole and probation, when he veered into the politics of the state budget.
"I'm hoping that your courage will become contagious and inspire the reluctant few Republicans who we need to join up and get our budget done," said Brown. "I know that's a political advertisement, but so be it."
The governor didn't elaborate on the message afterwards, instead blowing by reporters as he made a beeline back to his Capitol office. The critique comes on the heels of his tour of southern California and a day before he likely returns to the subject in a San Francisco speech to the Bay Area Council business group.
Brown's GOP jabs were fast and furious on the Sunday KNBC-TV morning program NewsConference.
"To ask (Republicans) to let the people vote on taxes would be like the Pope allowing Catholics to vote on abortion," said the governor. "It's a dogma."
Even with that, the governor suggested his trip wasn't about trying to pressure Republicans, but rather to inform the constituents of those legislators what another $15 billion in spending reductions would look like.
"I don't want it said, 'Why did you do that behind closed doors in Sacramento?'" Brown told KNBC's Conan Nolan.
The governor also rejected the idea that the issue of changing public employee pensions had created the Sacramento logjam, including assertion (after assertion after, you get the picture) from Republicans that public employee unions had squashed it.
"That's a canard," he said on the TV program.
Brown's options for the additional tax revenues (which, in addition to the big three he seeks to place on the ballot -- income, sales, vehicles -- includes the scrapping of a corporate tax break) are now limited to some sort of post-July 1 enactment, too late for the fiscal year.
And that's at the very best, which may be why some on the left continue to muse whether the negotiations with Republicans aren't just postponing the real day of reckoning: the one where, after the talks break down or the voters reject the taxes, much deeper cuts will still have to be made.
That line of thought -- Brown and Democrats should force the issue into the spotlight -- was laid out today in an online column by veteran editorial writer Peter Schrag:
By now the list of possible – or even necessary – cuts to get the budget in balance without the taxes is hardly news, though one reporter still described it as "surreal": close one or more UC campuses; fire thousands of teachers and shut down the schools a few weeks early; cut cops, close prisons...
What's certain is that these are not surreal ideas, and they're not fright lists. If California means to get off its treadmill of fudges and deferrals without taxes, there's no way other than the bloody road. The faster those road trips can bring that home, the better.
The governor doesn't show any sign of buying into that argument, at least not yet. For now, he seems focused on attempts to place the public blame squarely at the feet of Republicans -- a strategy which is probably a stopgap measure on the path towards his as-yet-undefined Budget Plan B.