Morning headlines: Monday, March 21, 2011
Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer says he is looking for around $500 million of savings in the state budget over the next several years. Missouri's Legislature is not in session this week because of its annual spring break. But Mayer says he nonetheless will be meeting with Senate budget-writing staff to try to identify changes that can save the state money. Mayer is a former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He gave little indication of what he is looking to cut. But Mayer did note that a gubernatorial commission has identified potential savings by restructuring and paring back the state's tax credits. Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey says the chamber is expected to take up a package of tax credit changes when lawmakers return from their break.
University of Missouri curators head to Rolla to determine the qualifications for the system's next president. The two-day meeting beginning Monday at Missouri University of Science and Technology follows several statewide public forums by a 20-member advisory panel that will help curators choose the new president. Curators are looking to replace Gary Forsee, who retired in January to care for his ill wife. Former general counsel Steve Owens is the interim president but is not interested in the permanent job. Campus leaders expect the presidential search to last most of this year. Curators will craft a statement on the desired qualifications of the four-campus system's next leader based in part on public comments from the statewide meetings.
The state of Illinois' decision to eliminate the death penalty means about three dozen state employees will soon be out of work. The (Decatur) Herald & Review reports that State Appellate Defender Michael Pelletier began notifying about 37 employees in his office on Friday that their jobs are being eliminated. That's because Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty earlier this month and commuted the sentences of the 15 men on death row. Most of the employees being cut are lawyers who handled death penalty cases. The reduction will save about $4.7 million.