There's a dispute between Bass and her Senate counterpart, Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), over whether the Legislature should try to fix the budget all at once or in stages.
Meanwhile, he says, the Legislature could begin to realign the relationship between the state and local governments -- shifting revenues and responsibilities to the locals -- and also seriously consider adopting the recommendations of a blue-ribbon tax restructuring commission scheduled to report in July.
Bass wants to fix the budget now and be rid of the problem. But she's also talking about "a mix of revenue and cuts" -- meaning higher taxes.
That's either fantasizing, or trying to persuade special interests on the left that Democrats are doing their best to protect education and the safety net, but Republicans won't let them.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senate GOP Leader Dennis Hollingsworth and Lockyer advocate balancing all the books now, even if they might become unbalanced later.
"Jumping halfway over a chasm is never a good idea," Lockyer says. He thinks the Legislature should simply cut every program "across the board" -- whatever it takes. "It has to look fair to the public."
He adds: "People somehow think they can have all the services and not pay the taxes. They're going to have to experience the cuts. Do an honest budget. Then possibly you can go to the voters and say, 'If you want some of this stuff back, you'll have to pay for it.' "
Meanwhile, he says, gimmicky budgeting "has been a cancer growing for the last decade. We've got to do the surgery -- very radical surgery."
There's no miracle cure. Just cut deep and soon.