It wasn't specifics that reporters learned today in a wide-ranging chat with the leader of the state Senate, but rather a map for the budget debate that lies ahead -- regardless of what happens in the May 19 special election.
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's main message was this: if the budget-related ballot measures pass, the remaining deficit is likely manageable. If they don't, it won't be pretty.
"Is it a scare tactic?," said the Democratic leader. "No, it's reality. The numbers are the numbers."
With no fanfare, the main campaign in support of the six budget measures on the May 19 ballot has pivoted to a media blitz focused on just two measures... the two with the most state budget money riding on them, and the two that are most valuable to the campaign's biggest donors.
Unlike press releases heralding earlier ads, there was no notification to the media that the Budget Reform Now campaign was launching a new ad, one featuring a firefighter warning of possible bad times ahead.
Perhaps no operation of state government has been sized up for reform more in recent years than the California Lottery.
Lease it... sell it... remove the existing restrictions... all have been discussed in hopes of getting higher profits out of a lottery that's more than two decades old and, in the eyes of many, not making as much money as it should.
In two weeks, voters will be asked to approve a relatively mild tweak to the California Lottery, but one worth major bucks to the state budget. This morning on The California Report, we examined the proposal at the heart of Proposition 1C.
That may be. But let's dig into the numbers for a couple of ponderables, including even a few that hint all might not be decided.
If there is any silver lining in a new public poll for supporters of the six budget related measures on the May 19 ballot, maybe it's this: fewer than one in five likely voters are "very closely" following news about the special election.
In other words, maybe there's still time.
But that's about it on the good news front from the new Public Policy Institute of California survey. There appear to be some real concerns out there about Propositions 1A through 1E. (Proposition 1F, a no-brainer that bans lawmaker pay hikes in deficit years, is wildly -- and unsurprisingly -- popular.)
The first public polls on any ballot measures before election day should usually be taken with a grain of salt; after all, the voters still don't know very much about the proposals, and the election is usually a long ways off.
That's not altogether true in the poll out today.