Morning headlines: September 19, 2012
Kirk releases pension video
Sen. Mark Kirk has released a video calling for "decisive bipartisan action" to prevent further reductions in Illinois' credit ratings. The Republican senator does not spell out what action he thinks is necessary. State officials are deadlocked over how to lower pension costs, which are a major factor in the state's declining credit ratings.
As a federal official, Kirk has no formal role in fixing the state's financial problems. But in the video released yesterday, he says the problems affect everyone in Illinois.
Kirk suffered a major stroke in January and is now undergoing physical rehabilitation. Kirk says he talks to his staff several times a day about key issues and gets email updates from the Senate's Republican leader.
Missouri's unemployment rate holds steady
A new report shows Missouri gaining nearly 18,000 jobs last month while the state's unemployment rate held steady at 7.2 percent.
The state Department of Economic Development released the figures Tuesday. The agency says the net gain of 17,900 nonfarm payroll jobs from July included 4,900 jobs in manufacturing and 10,200 jobs in the government sector - nearly all of those at the local level. Missouri's unemployment rate has been below 8 percent throughout 2012.
But Tuesday's report also notes that the state's civilian labor force fell by nearly 11,000 from July to August. The labor force is made up of people who are employed and those who are out of work but actively looking for jobs.
Disease killing deer in Missouri
Missouri's conservation agency says fly bites are spreading a disease that's killing deer around the state. The Missouri Conservation Department says the small midge fly is suspected of causing a hemorrhagic disease found in the deer, though it can't be transmitted to people. The agency says it has received nearly 3,000 reports of dead deer.