Pluribus AM: The presidential candidate who wants to give you a marshmallow gun

Good morning, it’s Friday, December 8, 2023. In today’s edition, California’s jaw-dropping budget deficit; Florida Republicans plan health care workforce push; Tennessee Gov. Lee to chair Republican Governors Association:

Top Stories

BUDGET: California faces a $68 billion budget deficit and a longer-term $155 billion hole, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office projected Thursday. The gap is so big it might compel Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to declare a fiscal state of emergency. Budget analysts blamed stock market losses and higher interest rates for the jaw-dropping numbers. (Pluribus News)

HEALTH CARE: Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R) has outlined a package of legislation she will pursue next year to address workforce shortages in health care, establish a health care innovation council, create new behavioral health teaching hospitals and expand health care price transparency. Passidomo said Medicaid expansion is still off the table. (Pluribus News)

MORE: Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has signed legislation repealing a 30-year old law that gave drug manufacturers immunity if their drugs caused harm. The new law will allow residents, state and local governments to sue over injuries caused by pharmaceuticals. (Michigan Advance)

JUSTICE: A bipartisan interim committee in the Kansas legislature will recommend reforming civil asset forfeiture laws under which law enforcement agencies can seize cash and property from those suspected, but not convicted, of crimes. Legislators will recommend ending civil asset forfeiture for some crimes, including simple drug possession, and to allow those who forfeit property to petition a court to get it back. (Kansas Reflector)

ABORTION: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) is threatening to bring criminal charges against any hospital or doctor who performs an abortion for Kate Cox, a woman who won a judge’s order to receive an abortion on a nonviable pregnancy that poses a risk to her health. Cox’s fetus has a fatal abnormality, but state law wouldn’t allow her to receive an abortion unless her life was at stake. (Texas Tribune)

MORE: Missouri Sen. Mike Moon (R) and Rep. Bob Titus (R) have pre-filed legislation that would allow murder charges against women who travel out of state to receive an abortion. The measure faces long odds; even prominent anti-abortion groups in Missouri oppose the measures. (Kansas City Star)

ATHLETICS: A bipartisan group of seven states led by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) filed suit against the NCAA challenging “transfer eligibility” rules that limit the number of times a college athlete can transfer between schools. The attorneys general say the rule violates antitrust provisions. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

EDUCATION: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) says his forthcoming budget proposal will seek to spend $448 million per year on early childhood education and expanded childcare access to alleviate teacher shortages. State Democrats hinted they will embrace the funding request. (Daily Press, Associated Press)

In Politics & Business

REPUBLICANS: Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) will take over from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) as chair of the Republican Governors Association, the group said Thursday. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) will serve as vice chair. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

GEORGIA: Legislators approved new congressional district map lines before adjourning their special session Thursday. The court-ordered redraw will create a new majority Black district, but Democrats say it does not meet the court’s requirements. The federal judge who ordered lawmakers to take another shot will hear testimony over the new maps Dec. 20. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

NEW JERSEY: Former Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) will run to replace term-limited Gov. Phil Murphy (D) in 2025, joining Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop (D) in the Democratic primary. U.S. Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D) and Mikie Sherrill (D) are both lining up support for their own bids, as are Newark Mayor Ras Baraka (D) and Speaker Craig Coughlin (D) and current Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D). (New Jersey Globe)

UTAH: Attorney General Sean Reyes (D) will not seek re-election next year, he plans to announce today. Reyes has been under scrutiny over campaign-funded trips and questionable fundraising practices at a nonprofit he controls; the legislature has initiated an audit into Reyes’s office. (Salt Lake Tribune)

For those counting at home, Reyes marks the third consecutive Utah attorney general — after Mark Shurtleff (R) and John Swallow (R) — to leave office under an ethical cloud.

By The Numbers

$8 million: The amount of tax revenue Kentucky has earned from sports gambling in the first two months of legalization, Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said Thursday. That pace would easily exceed the $23 million the state projected in first-year revenue. (Associated Press)

Just imagine how much is going to be wagered on the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals during March Madness.

$2,400: The size of direct cash payments that Californians released from prisons could receive, along with counseling and job search assistance, in a first-of-its-kind program aimed at reducing recidivism. Released prisoners would receive payments as they meet certain milestones, like finding a place to live and work or meeting with jobs coaches. (Associated Press)

86: The number of people who have applied to be New Mexico’s new state investment officer, including applicants from as far away as India and Thailand. Only 25 of those applicants met the minimum qualifications for a job that manages $48 billion in total assets and pays $319,000 a year. (Santa Fe New Mexican)

Bonus: One of the applicants is the great-great-grandson of the Lincoln County sheriff killed in a shootout with Billy the Kid in 1878.

Off The Wall

The Pennsylvania state House has closed its legislative chamber for at least the first two months of the year, after a ruptured heating coil above the ornate ceiling caused significant water damage. Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) will deliver his budget address in the Capitol Rotunda, rather than the House chamber, Speaker Joanna McClinton (D) said. (Harrisburg Patriot-News)

Peter Park has set a new record as California’s youngest lawyer. Park passed the state bar exam in July — at age 17. He’s working as a clerk in the Tulare County District Attorney’s office, now that he’s turned the ripe old age of 18. (Los Angeles Times)

The New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College held its quadrennial forum for lesser-known presidential candidates on Thursday, featuring some of the dozens of candidates who have qualified for the ballot in the first-in-the-nation primary state. One perennial candidate, Vermin Supreme (D), pledged to take away people’s guns and replace them with guns that shoot marshmallows. (WMUR)

Quote of the Day

“Now that we have a clearer picture of the state’s finances, we must now solve what would have been last year’s problem in this year’s budget.”

Erin Mellon, a spokesperson for California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), on the state’s $68 billion budget deficit. (Los Angeles Times)