Morning round-up
6:18 am
Mon May 28, 2012

Morning headlines - Monday, May 28, 2012

Todd Epsten dies; former president of the Board of Police Commissioners was chair of the state's largest liquor distributor

The former head of the appointed board that oversees the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has died.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Todd Epsten, who was the chairman of liquor distributor Major Brands, died Saturday of brain cancer. He was 52.

Governor Matt Blunt appointed Epsten to the Board of Police Commissioners in 2008. He was president in 2010 when he abruptly resigned after board members appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon did not support his effort to remain president.

Epsten is survived by his parents, four siblings, and his wife and two sons. His funeral is this morning at Central Reform Congregation.

MoDOT changes mowing schedule

Drivers along the interstates in Missouri may notice the grass getting a little longer this summer.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has reduced the number of times a year it will mow the grass on the roadsides and medians.

The reduction from four cuttings a year to three will save the state about two point six million dollars a year. The cycle could be changed if the grass gets too long.

Full plate remains for Ill. lawmakers

Brian Mackey contributed reporting from Springfield.

Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield today having made drastic cuts to the state's Medicaid program - one of two priorities of Gov. Pat Quinn and legislative leaders.

Now, they just have to make changes to the state's pension systems, and set spending levels for schools, universities, prisons, and every other function of state government.

"If the $2.7 billion in reduced Medicaid funding had not taken place, then we would have had a situation where we would have had to go back into the rest of the budget and cut even more," said Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion).

Lawmakers have been meeting behind closed doors for weeks to hammer out the details of the pension changes, which will affect public school teachers, and state and university employees. House Speaker Michael Madigan said in an interview last week with Illinois Channel that moreĀ  pension costs will be shifted from the state.

"We do feel that local school districts and community colleges and universities ought to assume the responsibility to make the pension payments for their employees," the speaker said. He's ruled out increasing the retirement age, but says state employees will likely see a change in the cost-of-living increase that bumps pensions by 3 percent a year.

Republicans oppose shifting pension costs to local governments, saying it will just increase local taxes and tuition.