Good morning! Here are a few of today's starting headlines:
Missouri to apply for high-speed rail funding
The State of Missouri will apply for federal funding to construct high-speed rail service between the state's two metropolitan areas. Gov. Jay Nixon is scheduled to announce details of the application during a 10 a.m. news conference at the Kirkwood Amtrak station in suburban St. Louis. Nixon's office says the application will include a proposal for immediate upgrades to improve speeds on existing lines between St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo.
Meanwhile, a longer-term proposal will call for planning and engineering to prepare for construction of a separate rail line dedicated to high-speed passenger service. Nixon's office says the immediate upgrades to existing lines would create more than 1,300 construction and design jobs.
Belleville schools cutting teacher, aide jobs
The board of a southwestern Illinois high school says it plans to save $1.2 million by cutting the jobs of 15 teachers and 22 aides. The cuts came in a unanimous vote last night as the Belleveille Township High School District 201 is trying to pare a deficit and grapple with the $2 million it still is owed by the state. The district has about 490 employees and 5,000 students at its two high schools.
Superintendent Scott Spurgeon says student scheduling requests used to determine which classes are needed for the coming school year were considered when deciding the cuts. The district last year voted to lay off 20 teachers, but 18 of those were reinstated before the school year began.
New tobacco legislation at issue for Missouri lawmakers
Anti-smoking and health care advocates are urging Missouri lawmakers to approve new tobacco legislation. Supporters say the measure would require tobacco companies that were not part of the 1998 settlement with several states to start paying an allocable share.
Proponents of the legislation say exempting some tobacco companies is unfair. Plus, they say it holds down the price of some of the cigarettes sold in Missouri. The group plans to hold a news conference today in the state Capitol.