Brown avoided questions about whether he was in Arizona for his weeklong vacation.
His first day back in Sacramento was full of meetings, mostly about the budget, now estimated to reach a $25-billion deficit over 18 months.
Brown supports Governor Schwarzenegger's call for a special session to tackle part of the shortfall.
"We have one governor at a time and I think it's important that each, while they're at their post, do everything they can to deal with the state's problems," said Brown. "I would hope the legislators, even when they're not in session, will be working on how to deal with that. So there is a special session. That's a great opportunity to do things."
True to his frugal reputation, Brown's budget meeting was in the California Attorney General's office, turning down a downtown office space the Department of Finance had arranged.
Brown's spokesman says people better get used to that.
"The governor will have a staff, I would say considerably smaller than the current governor's staff, and we'll see how that plays out," said Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford.
Brown also plans to keep the cost down for his inauguration on January 3.
"There's been a lot of talk of Jerry Brown's legendary first inauguration," said Clifford. "It was a pretty simple affair and I that's consistent with who he is as a person."
All the frugal talk signals a much different era than Schwarzenegger's, whose glamorous celebrity lifestyle often meant grand things.
We already know of at least one person advising the Brown transition team: John Mockler, one of the authors of Proposition 98, the voter-approved measure that dictates education funding. Education takes up more than half of the state's general fund.