Morning headlines: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
MoDOT resurrects controversial I-55 ramp proposal
The Missouri Department of Transportation is again pushing a proposal to build two-lane ramps to ease the congestion at Interstate 55 and the Poplar Street Bridge.
But the ramps would remove access to the bridge from eastbound 70 - a fact the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says is prompting opposition from officials in Illinois, who say that severs a vital link between downtown St. Louis and the Metro East. Last summer, they successfully removed the $55 million project from a regional transportation spending plan. MoDOT plans to try
MoDOT says the new Mississippi River bridge will be just as convenient for most of the traffic going to and from Illinois. It's scheduled to open in 2014.
Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker gets mixed reception in Illinois visit
(This story is from Amanda Vinicky in Springfield)
Illinois business leaders gave a warm reception to Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday, but the reception he got from unions was anything but.
Walker was the keynote speaker at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce's "Employer Action Day." He bragged to reporters after his speech he spent his first year in office bringing down costs for businesses and making the state government more efficient - while Illinois raised the income tax on individuals and corporations.
"Even though you've got probably well-intentioned people, the reality is when you had such a dramatic increase in taxes on individuals and on businesses, that brought about even bigger problems the year after," Walker said. "The unemployment rate's above 9 percent. In our state we went the opposite direction."
Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn was not in Springfield for the speech - he was in Chicago, where cement and concrete manufacturer Lafarge announced it was relocating its headquarters from Virginia to Chicago.
Walker was greeted in Springfield by thousand of union members chanting "Go home Scott Walker!" He's faces a recall in Wisconsin in June for successfully stripping public workers in the state of their collective bargaining rights.
Mo. lawmakers want state to check for cheating on standardized tests
Missouri lawmakers are pushing a proposal that would require the state's education officials to check for cheating on standardized tests.
The state House on Tuesday added the amendment to a bill dealing with restrictions on former state employees. It would require the state Board of Education to contract for an analysis of student achievement tests that would look for signs of tampering or unusual changes in results and particular schools.
A report last month in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education received more than 100 reports of testing irregularities in 2010 and 2011.