Pluribus AM: The year of education reform; Newsom details budget shortfall; VA Dems flip Senate seat

Good morning, it’s Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. In today’s edition, 2023 shaping up as the year of education reform; Newsom details cuts to cover budget shortfall; Dems flip Va. Senate seat:

Top Stories

CALIFORNIA: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) pledged to close an estimated $22.5 billion budget gap without major cuts to state services. In his annual budget address Tuesday, Newsom proposed cutting state spending by 3% and backfilling some spending with federal money. Newsom’s plan does not call for dipping into the state’s $22.4 billion rainy-day fund or any other reserve funds. (Pluribus News) A slumping stock market is worse for California, heavily reliant on capital gains taxes, than any other state.

MORE: Newsom’s budget includes money to provide the anti-overdose drug naloxone to middle and high schools, part of a $97 million spending plan to combat the opioid crisis. (Los Angeles Times) The proposal maintains funding for kindergarten for 4-year-olds and expands health care to cover the undocumented, but it delays $550 million in early childhood facility improvements. (Sacramento Bee)

ILLINOIS: The legislature on Tuesday gave final approval to a measure shielding patients who seek and providers who give reproductive or gender-affirming care from legal action originating in other states. (Associated Press) Expect blue states to take up bills like this in coming months. Democratic governors in Colorado, North Carolina and Hawaii have already issued executive orders protecting providers and patients.

MORE: Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) has signed a bill banning assault weapons just hours after it won final legislative approval. Illinois is now the ninth state to ban assault weapons. (WBEZ)

FLORIDA: Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson (R) has proposed a first-in-the-nation measure to block businesses from tracking firearm and ammunition purchases. The measure comes after the implementation of new International standards that establish separate identification codes for firearm and ammo sales on credit card transactions. Simpson’s office oversees the agency that issues firearm licenses. (Florida Politics)

MORE: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) pledged $3.5 billion to restore the Everglades and improve a water pollution program. The announcement came four years to the day after he ordered $2.5 billion in spending on the same programs. (Fort Myers News-Press)

NEW YORK: Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has proposed spending $1 billion to expand psychiatric beds and housing units to bolster mental health services. Hochul’s plan would increase in-patient beds by 1,000 and add 3,500 new housing units for those who need treatment. (State of Politics)

IOWA: Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is offering some early details about her proposal to use state money to pay for private school tuition. Reynolds proposed allowing students to use up to $7,598 per year in public funds to cover private school costs. (Associated Press)

OHIO: Senate Republicans will once again take up a plan to remake the Department of Education, giving more power to Gov. Mike DeWine (R) at the expense of the state Board of Education. Senate President Matt Huffman (R) plans to start committee hearings next week, with the goal of passing a bill by late February. (Columbus Dispatch)

MISSISSIPPI: Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann (R) says he expects a bill to create incentives for school districts to adopt modified school calendars to come up early in this year’s session. The legislation would create nine-week terms followed by two-week breaks, shortening summer break by 10-12 days while maintaining a 180-day school calendar. (Magnolia Tribune)

NEBRASKA: Legislators will debate election reforms including an end to early voting and a limit on the number of identifications voters can show when they go to the polls. One bill would require in-person voting and limit voting by mail only to military personnel and nursing home residents. (Omaha World-Herald)

MARIJUANA: Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) says he sees no path to legalized recreational marijuana this year. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Ohio lawmakers have until the beginning of May to act on a proposal to legalize marijuana. Supporters of legal pot say they will collect signatures for a ballot measure if legislators don’t act. (Statehouse News Bureau) Minnesota lawmakers have introduced their bill to legalize marijuana, though months of work are ahead. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

In Politics & Business

WEST VIRGINIA: Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) will run for governor in 2024, when Gov. Jim Justice (R) faces term limits. (Associated Press) He joins state Del. Moore Capito (R), son of U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R); and auto dealer Chris Miller (R), son of Rep. Carol Miller (R), who are already in the race. 

VIRGINIA: Democrat Aaron Rouse won a special election to fill a Virginia Beach-based state Senate seat formerly held by now-U.S. Rep. Jen Kiggans (R), giving Democrats a slightly expanded 22-18 edge in the Senate. Two less competitive districts in the state House of Delegates elected one Democrat and one Republican, maintaining the GOP’s 52-48 margin of control. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

OHIO: Republicans angry at the elevation of House Speaker Jason Stephens (R) are planning to form a “third caucus” to drive the House agenda. Democrats helped elevate Stephens over state Rep. Derek Merrin (R) over concerns that Merrin would back right-to-work legislation that would harm unions. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

ALASKA: Three Republicans have introduced measures to repeal ranked-choice voting, approved by voters via ballot measure in 2020. Since ranked choice voting was implemented, Democrats have won a U.S. House seat and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) won re-election over conservative objections. (Anchorage Daily News) A repeal would face a tough climb in the state Senate, where a bipartisan coalition seems to like the system just fine.

COLORADO: Legislators will debate a bill that would place a measure on November’s ballot to waive future tax refunds under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, the landmark 1990s-era law that has limited state spending. Two Democrats backing the bill said it would earmark those funds for public education. (Colorado Sun)

PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D) and House Speaker Joe Tate (D) have told the Democratic National Committee they will move the presidential primary up to Feb. 27, 2024 — but they only have until Feb. 1 to do so. Legislators are in session for only nine days before the DNC-imposed deadline. (MLive)

By The Numbers

6 million: The number of Californians who remain under flood alerts as an atmospheric river soaks the state. Parts of California have received rainfall amounts of 400% to 600% above average. Three more atmospheric river events are expected in the next 10 days. (CNN)

250: The number of years Maryland has used its state capitol building, making it the oldest U.S. state capitol in continuous use by a legislature. Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) office on Tuesday said a long-running renovation of the iconic building has been completed. (Hogan’s office)

$251,276: The amount of legal cannabis that retailers in Connecticut sold by 5 p.m. Tuesday, the first day in which recreational sales were allowed. One retailer hosted a steel drum band and handed out free doughnuts. (Hartford Courant)

Off The Wall

New Hampshire state Rep. Joe Sweeney (R) wants to make it a lot more expensive to run for office in the Live Free or Die State. Sweeney has proposed legislation hiking the filing fee for those who want to run for governor from $100 to $10,000, and for Congress from $50 to $5,000. Pretty much no one — from conservative Republicans to liberal Democrats — likes the idea. (WMUR)

Quote of the Day

“I do know where the bathrooms are, so that’s very helpful.”

Texas state Rep. Caroline Harris (R), among the 26 new House members sworn in this year. Harris worked as a staffer in the legislature before winning office. (Texas Tribune)