Budget | St. Louis Public Radio

Budget

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner speaks to the Ways and Means Committee on May 31, 2018.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner told the city’s budget committee Thursday that her decision to charge Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens with two felonies did not take away from her office’s ability to fight violent crime.

Gardner was the final city department head to speak to the Ways and Means committee, which will start making changes to the next year's $1.1 billion budget  on Monday. It must get final approval by June 30.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

The Missouri legislature has retaliated against the state health department by including what some called drastic cuts to the agency in next year’s budget.

Lawmakers approved the cuts, totaling in eight eliminated positions, after the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services refused to reveal the number of people in Missouri who had tested positive for antibodies for a mysterious virus. The virus reportedly killed a Meramec State Park worker in 2017.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

As the clock winds down on the Missouri General Assembly’s regular session, legislators distracted by the Greitens scandal have done little to change the public school landscape. But that could change in coming weeks as a massive policy bill nears passage and the two chambers negotiate differences in the education budget.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens is proposing a $6.5 million increase to Missouri’s student financial aid programs, a modest boost amid his desire to cut $68 million in direct funds to the state’s public colleges and universities.

The state’s Department of Higher Education gave 64,500 students attending in-state schools about $128.5 million last year in the form of three grants: Access Missouri, a financial need-based grant; Bright Flight, a merit-based scholarship; and the A+ Scholarship, providing free community college to students completing 50 hours of community service in high school.

Steve Conway, who represented St. Louis' 8th Ward for 27 years, resigned Monday to become the city assessor.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:25 p.m. Nov. 27 with comments from Conway — A 27-year veteran of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen has resigned to become the city’s assessor.

Krewson’s office announced Monday morning that Alderman Steve Conway, D-8th Ward, would replace St. Louis assessor Freddie Dunlap, who recently retired. The assessor determines property values in the city.

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.
File photo | 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.

East St. Louis lays off eight police officers

Oct 14, 2015
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.

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