Has Mr. Newsom Resurrected A Gimmick?

Next week my students will start reading through Governor Newsom’s proposed state budget for the next fiscal year, which was released today. Before they do, I’ll be sending them a 2019 column from the LA Times entitled, “The one-day, $1-billion California budget gimmick that has lasted for almost a decade,” which is about a budgetary maneuver employed in 2009:

I know all about that maneuver because I was there, serving at that time as a special advisor to Governor Schwarzenegger. I was opposed to the gimmick but not able to stop it and as the column explains, every year thereafter, Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown deferred payroll from the final day of one fiscal year to the first day of the next so as not to recognize the expense. That changed in 2019 when, to his credit, Governor Newsom said, “we’re getting rid of that gimmick,” and the extra cost was finally absorbed by the state budget (though somehow Mr. Newsom got the expense allocated to Mr. Brown’s final year as governor). At his press conference announcing the change, Mr. Newsom asked for forgiveness in advance should he ever be called upon to employ the same gimmick:

Today, five years to the day after that statement, page 7 of his proposed budget indicates that Mr. Newsom has resurrected the gimmick:

But California is not in a recession. So why resurrect the gimmick? There the plot thickens. More on that subject to come.