Budget | St. Louis Public Radio

Budget

Because a pending state bill doesn't pre-empt local minimum wage laws passed before August 28, Board of Aldermen members may act fast on passing a minimum wage increase.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at June 30 with final passage — The Board of Aldermen voted 23-1 on Friday to send the fiscal year 2018 budget to Mayor Lyda Krewson.

The $1 billion spending plan is mostly flat compared to last year, driven by a combination of slower revenue growth and increases in pension costs.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police officers raise their weapons at a preshift meeting 3.23.15
File photo | Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

The interim chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department asked the city’s Board of Aldermen on Wednesday to find money for hiring more officers and providing better pay. Liberal activists, however, want city leaders to ignore the drumbeats of demands for more officers and instead find funding for social services that could help stem crime.

The request from the police department will be competing with other urgent public safety needs, including funds for the drug Narcan, which reverses opioid overdoses.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated April 26 with result of E&A voteSt. Louis aldermen will have another $2.3 million to distribute when they start looking at the city’s budget for fiscal year 2018.

The Board of Estimate and Apportionment approved changes Wednesday to the draft budget, leaving the new use tax revenue available for things like public safety and affordable housing. Previously, the entire amount had gone to closing a $17 million deficit.

The Milburn campus of O'Fallon Township High School, where the district's ninth-graders attend class.
O'Fallon Township High School via Facebook

Updated March 3, 2017 with results of an emergency meeting — A Metro East high school has reversed the severity of its planned teacher cuts for next school year.

At an emergency meeting Thursday, the O’Fallon Township High School board of education unanimously approved a new budget deficit reduction plan. The new plan eliminates four classroom teaching positions instead of six full-time and one part-time teacher.  Guidance counseling and library services are no longer impacted by the cuts.

Bac Le, 70, picks up his grandson after studying for his citizenship test with a tutor from Bilingual International Assistant Services. Le moved to St. Louis from Vietnam to be near his children.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Between learning U.S. civics and history to acing all four parts of the naturalization exam — passing the U.S. citizenship test is no walk in the park. For older immigrants who don’t speak English, the learning curve can be even steeper.

“Think about your own grandmother,” said Jason Baker, executive director with Bilingual International Assistant Services. “Imagine her trying to learn a completely foreign language at an advanced age. And then in that foreign language learn about the Federalist Papers and be able to produce it on command. Some grandmothers will be able to do it. Others will not. Mine certainly couldn’t.”

Incoming House Budget Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, is warning of tough budgetary choices ahead for Gov.-elect Eric Greitens.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

As noted last week, Gov.-elect Eric Greitens will have a lot of latitude to bring about major policy changes – thanks to huge Republican majorities in the General Assembly. But it’s becoming abundantly clear that Greitens will encounter more than just the glory of legislative accomplishment when he’s sworn in next year.

That’s because both Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the House Budget Committee believe Greitens will have to dive into the not-so-fun task of withholding tens of millions of dollars from Missouri’s budget. It will be first big governmental test for Greitens, who has no elected experience.

Budget director Paul Payne gives a presentation at a public hearing on the city's 2017 spending plan on May 18, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

For the past two weeks, the heads of city departments have come to the Ways and Means Committee asking the aldermen for additional money to cover their needs.

On Monday, it was the aldermen's turn to have their say on the spending plan for 2017.

Lawmakers in St. Louis are limited in how they can affect the budget. The city's budget must be balanced, so any addition to one department has to be balanced by a subtraction from another area.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief Sam Dotson takes questions from Alderman Sam Moore (in hat), D., 4th Ward, at a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee on June 1, 2016.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Aldermen in charge of St. Louis' budget heard more requests Wednesday from department officials who say they can't do the jobs they should without additional staffing.

Representatives of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the circuit attorney's office and recorder of deeds Sharon Carpenter all asked members of the Ways and Means Committee to find the money for additional positions. The St. Louis Fire Department made a similar request last week.

St. Louis City Hall
Richie Diesterheft | Flickr

St. Louis aldermen began working Wednesday morning on the $1.04 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The budget has very few major changes from last year. The city bridges the gap left by the departure of the Rams by shifting some special funds into the general fund, and spending less on things like ward capital projects and demolition.

Because a pending state bill doesn't pre-empt local minimum wage laws passed before August 28, Board of Aldermen members may act fast on passing a minimum wage increase.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

The departure of the Rams to Los Angeles may mean budget cuts for some St. Louis agencies.

The city's top three elected officials on Tuesday approved a proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2017, which starts July 1. The $1.04 billion budget is about 2.5 percent bigger than last year, but revenue growth is projected at only 1 percent, driven mostly by hits to the sales and amusement taxes. 

Gambling revenue from the Casino Queen is a major source of revenue for the city of East St. Louis.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

Cash-strapped East St. Louis has received an overdue gift from the state just in time for the holidays: $2.5 million worth of back taxes from the Illinois gaming board.

Normally East St. Louis receives a portion of gaming revenue spent at the Casino Queen on a monthly basis. But until Illinois passed a partial budget earlier this month, the state comptroller’s office didn’t have the authority to release the funds.

East St. Louis officials gather for a press conference in the mayor's office Nov. 20, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

East St. Louis officials are looking to the state and the banks to avoid having to ask city employees to work without pay in January.

At a news conference convened by the mayor Friday evening, City Manager Alvin Parks said “there is a distinct possibility” of payless paydays after Dec. 30.

East St. Louis teachers walk out of their union hall after voting to approve a tentative contract agreement and end a month-long teacher strike Friday Oct. 30, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 20 to clarify the city's current budget deficit. Updated at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 with vote results: Class will be back in session on Monday for the 6,000 students enrolled in East St. Louis public schools.

A teacher strike that began Oct. 1 is over after the school board and teacher union voted Friday to approve a new contract for the district's 400 teachers and professional staff.

police car lights
Jason Rojas | Flickr

In a letter released Wednesday to staff and media, East St. Louis City Manager Alvin Parks announced eight police officers are being laid off effective October 28.

Parks said that the police layoffs are “temporary but indefinite.” The layoffs would reportedly leave the East St. Louis police department with 44 officers, representing a 15 percent reduction in force.

East St.  Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

East St. Louis employees across all departments could be facing layoffs due to a budget deficit approaching $5.7 million by 2016.

“We will make every effort as an administration to review all legal options and only look at layoffs as a last resort. However at this point we really do not see how the city will avoid layoffs,” said Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks in a prepared statement to news outlets Sunday afternoon.

Members of the House and Senate budget committees hash out their differences earlier this year. While the budgetary process in Missouri isn't always pretty, it's a picnic compared to what's going in Kansas and Illinois.
Tim Bommel I House Communications

Missouri lawmakers just wrapped up an, um, unusual legislative session. But they did manage to avoid some pitfalls that have recently plagued Kansas and Illinois, including:

St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5 p.m. with comments from Mayor Slay.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said Wednesday he's found a way to fund 160 additional police officers over the next two years, plus get money for proven crime prevention programs and more training for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. 

"We can do things like look for more efficiencies, and do hiring freezes, things like that, but it's not going to raise the necessary dollars to hire that many cops," Slay said. "Cops are very expensive, but it's money well-spent."  

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch
Courtesy of Bob McCulloch's office

The St. Louis County Council gave final approval to its 2014 budget, keeping most of St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley’s recommendations.

But the council did make funding changes at the request of St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch. Some money will go to adding staffers for a diversion program aimed at keeping first-time offenders out of prison.

(via Flickr/David_Shane)

Missouri auditor Tom Schweich had no authority to challenge Gov. Jay Nixon's decision to withhold about $170 million from the budget for fiscal year 2012 before the spending plan actually went into effect.

That was the ruling today from six of the justices on the Missouri Supreme Court. Judge Paul Wilson did not participate.

Slay Says STL-TV Is Luxury City Can't Afford

May 12, 2013
St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will resume discussions next week of the city’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The budget presented to the board by Mayor Francis Slay totals $985 million.

Among the cuts to the budget that Slay is proposing includes essentially eliminating the city’s cable TV channel, known as STL-TV.

The cut was rejected by the board of estimate and apportionment, but Slay says he remains confident that the Board of Aldermen will see that STL-TV is a luxury the city can’t afford.

(Nixon: via Missouri Governor’s website, Spence: courtesy Alpha Packaging)

Gov. Jay Nixon entered the final month before the November elections with three times as much campaign cash as his Republican challenger.

Finance figures released Monday show the Democratic governor had $4.9 million in his campaign account at the start of October, compared with $1.5 million for St. Louis businessman Dave Spence.

(via Flickr/ChrisEaves.com)

Two major Illinois prisons and other facilities will stay open for at least another month after an arbitrator ruled Gov. Pat Quinn's administration violated workers' rights in rushing to close them

Arbitrator Steven Bierig concluded Friday that the state departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice did not properly negotiate with workers over the impact of closing the supermax Tamms prison, the Dwight women's lockup and several juvenile facilities. 

city hall with flowers
File photo | St. Louis Public Radio

The extra sales tax generated by a long postseason of baseball helped St. Louis city end the fiscal year with a $4.3 million surplus, but officials say that sigh of relief is only temporary.

Revenue was up just about $4 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, driven by higher hotel and sales taxes from the World Series. Lower-than-expected spending made up the rest of the surplus.

It's always better to have more money than expected, says city budget director Paul Payne, but the growth may not be sustainable.

(via Flickr/Trailnet)

The St. Louis County Parks Department presented its business plan to the County Council last night, and for now, no park closures are being discussed. 

Officials with the parks department said they’re doing their best to cut unnecessary expenses and uncover new revenue streams, but currently the department has a $500,000 budget shortfall for 2013.

The budget outlook could get much worse in 2014, and Parks Department Director Tom Ott said they would need to make drastic cuts without adequate funding.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a state budget that cuts millions of dollars in school funding and public safety spending.

In one key change to the spending blueprint adopted by the General Assembly in May, Quinn vetoed financing for prisons he wants to close.
 
He announced plans Saturday to try to redirect those funds to the state agency charged with caring for neglected and abused children.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Nixon will announce budget cuts today

Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to announce today if he’ll make any reductions to the state budget – ending weeks of speculation for university and social service program administrators.

Nixon this week signed legislation funding public schools and the state departments of health and mental health without making any cuts.

via Flickr | frankjuarez

A new spending plan for K-12 education in Missouri is now law.

Gov. Jay Nixon signed the education budget last night at a Kansas City-area Boys State event.

The budget includes record funding for public schools, but remains below the levels called for in the state's education funding formula. A fix was supposed to be a priority for lawmakers in the last legislative session, but the Republican Party couldn't agree on a solution.

(via Flickr/JimBowen0306)

Lawmakers in Illinois went past their midnight deadline in Springfield on Thursday in an effort to finish their business before the campaign season. In a frenzied end, the General Assembly approved a new state budget and authorized a massive expansion of gambling.

But they're not finished.

The collapse of pension reform means lawmakers will probably return to Springfield this summer. This recap is from Amanda Vinicky in Springfield.

Carnahan says changes coming for Postal Service

May 11, 2012
(Official Photo)

The U.S. Postal Service is on track to run out of cash as early as October.

The agency has temporarily shelved plans to close some 3,700 underperforming post offices. 

The Postal Service has been hurt by the drop in first-class mail as more people switch to the Internet to communicate and pay bills.

But St. Louis Congressman Russ Carnahan says the agencies’ biggest problem stems from a requirement to prepay health benefits for future retirees.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated at 6:15 am Wednesday. Reporting from Amanda Vinicky in Springfield and Jacob McCleland in Cape Girardeau was used in this report.

An Illinois legislative commission has signaled its opposition to Gov. Pat Quinn's plan to close two prisons and a state center for people with developmental disabilities.

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