Budget

(via Flickr/Tracy O)

Missouri's revenues are up over last year - they're just not growing fast enough to keep the state's budget in balance.

Flickr/Jason Dunnivant

Ill. Gov to propose closing 14 major facilities in budget address

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's administration says the cuts and consolidations will result in more than 1,100 layoffs.

The cuts come in all sizes. At the large end is Tamms Correctional Center, a southern Illinois prison that houses about 400 inmates  -- which is just over half of capacity.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis city firefighters took their objections to pension reform proposals from Mayor Francis Slay to City Hall on Friday, the day the legislation making the changes was formally introduced.

Firefighters say they don't object to the cost-saving proposals in the bills, including reduced disability payments for firefighters who can be retrained for a second career, and a two-tier system that could reduce pension benefits for new hires.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated at 12:20 p.m. with comments from the firefighters union.

Updated at 3:55 p.m. with timeframe, and more comments from Mayor Slay and the union.

Saying the current system is financially unsustainable and could result in huge reductions to city services, Mayor Francis Slay has officially unveiled his plan to change pensions for the St. Louis city firefighters.

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky was used in this story.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will endorse legislation in his State of the State address next week that would raise Illinois' high school dropout age to 18, according to a statement from the Democrat's office.

The proposal would answer a call from fellow Democrat Barack Obama, who in his State of the Union address on Tuesday urged states to keep students in high school long enough for them to get their diploma.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

One day after giving it first-round approval, the Missouri House has passed a proposed constitutional amendment to place spending caps on the state budget.

During final debates, State Representative Jeanette Mott Oxford (D, St. Louis) argued that limiting spending to the yearly inflation rate and population growth could make it very hard for lawmakers to address critical needs in the future.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

A proposed constitutional amendment that would place caps on the state budget has received first-round approval in the Missouri House.

The measure would limit state spending each year to the annual rate of inflation and would take population growth into account.  The sponsor, State Representative Eric Burlison (R, Springfield), told fellow lawmakers that they should follow the example of everyday citizens who have to balance their household budgets.  Democrats,however, including Leonard Hughes of Kansas City, argued that the proposed ballot measure would be redundant.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Governor Jay Nixon delivered his annual State of the State Address Tuesday night.  He touched briefly on the state budget and other issues, while spending lots of time showcasing his administration’s accomplishments and praising the values of Missouri citizens as he prepares for his re-election bid this fall.  St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin recaps the address.

Beginning on a somber note

Nate Birt | Provided

The St. Louis County Public Works department is asking the County Council for permission to use more than $394,000 in unspent funds to make emergency repairs to the roof of the county jail.

Public works spokesman David Wrone says a hailstorm last spring punched pin-sized holes in the membrane of the roof. Resulting water leaks damaged mechanical and electrical equipment, as well as left some day rooms and cells on the 8th floor unusable.

(via Flickr/anneh632)

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn and the state's top four lawmakers have reached a deal to keep seven state facilities open until June.

Quinn had targeted mental health centers and centers and developmentally disabled, as well as a prison in Lincoln, for closure, saying the legislature had failed to appropriate enough money to operate them for the entire year.  The closures could have resulted in nearly 2,000 layoffs.

(via St. Louis County website)

St. Louis County Council members gather tonight at 6:00 p.m. to discuss County Executive Charlie Dooley’s proposed budget for 2012.  Facing flat revenues and a budget shortfall, Dooley has proposed $10 million in spending cuts that would close 23 county parks and eliminate up to 133 Parks & Recreation Department employees.

The budget has been under fire from council members, citizens, and environmental groups, many of whom are calling for more equitable cuts across county departments.

Former County Park Ranger Marty Koch joined Dooley’s Senior Policy Advisor Mike Jones today on St. Louis on the Air.

(St. Louis County website)

St. Louis County Executive is defending his proposed budget that includes layoffs and closing some 20 parks and other facilities. In a letter to the county council dated Tuesday, Dooley laid out the options for dealing with declining property tax revenues and rising costs. Dooley says it’s time for the county to live within its means.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

They called her "Mama Duck," for the way she tried to move everyone toward consensus.

She was a "pillar" of an alderwoman despite her short stature, a small lady with big ideas, compassionate, steady, deliberate.

They gave her a crystal bowl, because, as alderwoman Marlene Davis put it, "When you look at crystal, you know that it has that shine, that gleam, but it's also sturdy and lifelong, and that's you."

That's how members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen said farewell to April Ford-Griffin at City Hall this morning.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

Illinois's 44 regional superintendents have decided not to appeal a court ruling that upheld Gov. Pat Quinn's right to cut funding for their salaries from the current state budget.

(via Flickr/jpmueller99)

A proposed federal transportation budget could eliminate Amtrak service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

A report on KMOX radio says the House Appropriations subcommittee supports eliminating the federal operating subsidy for trains that also get state funding. That includes all routes between St. Louis and Kansas City and three of five trains between St. Louis and Chicago.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford and WBEZ's Sam Hudzik was used in this story.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he will need to lay off 1,900 state employees and close seven state facilities to live within a budget sent to him by the General Assembly.

"Decisions made by members of the General Assembly I may or may not agree with, but once they have adopted their budget, it is now the law of our state," Quinn told reporters in Chicago today. "We have to implement this in a responsible manner."

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated with comments from Quinn, unions and lawmakers.

Reporting from WBEZ's Sam Hudzik and Illinois Public Radio's Sean Crawford was used in this report.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says job reductions will be necessary to help Illinois deal with a record budget deficit.

Sources told the Chicago Tribune that thousands of state workers could receive layoff notices.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri auditor Tom Schweich has sued Gov. Jay Nixon over $170 million in funds the governor withheld from the 2012 budget to pay for disaster relief.

An audit released by Schweich's office last week was sharply critical of the withholds. The suit filed today is based on many of the audit's findings, including:

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Saying they could not in good conscience declare that the city of St. Louis is in a fiscal crisis when it had a budget surplus last year, two members of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment on Wednesday forced a delay on implementing a third year of furloughs for city employees.

Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio

On Saturday, Standard and Poor's downgraded the debt of the United States a notch.

But the ratings firm continues to see debt issued by the city of St. Louis as a good investment, though vulnerable to economic shocks.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

As budget talks continue in Washington, Sen. Claire McCaskill is accusing GOP leadership of playing politics during negotiations with the president.

 Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, is proposing to give President Obama sweeping power to, in effect, unilaterally increase the nation’s debt limit to avoid a first-ever default on U.S. obligations.

 McCaskill, a Democrat, says McConnell’s plan is purely political.

(via Flickr/ChrisEaves.com)

Reporting by Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

The cuts Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn made to hospitals probably won’t be the final deal. The administration is using the move in an effort to further its agenda.

Illinois reimburses hospitals when they take on low-income patients who are on Medicaid, and state law sets the rate hospitals are to be paid.

(via Flickr/Richie Diesterheft)

EMS billing will be outsourced, and overtime for firefighters and jail guards has been cut under a budget approved Friday by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

The money the city hopes to save by outsourcing helped aldermen restore funds for bulk trash pick-up, crime prevention and building demolition.

But it was $500,000 that wasn't restored to the Affordable Housing Commission that drew the lone no vote from Alderwoman Kacie Starr Triplett.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The Metro Board of Commissioners announced today that they have passed their operating budget for fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1.

Metro's operating costs will be significantly impacted by higher fuel costs and the "volatility" of metal prices for parts and supplies Metro said in a release.

So, will fares go up? Metro said no:

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Illinois lawmakers face some big decisions in the next two weeks, including how much to cut the budget and whether to overhaul workers' compensation.

The spring legislative session is supposed to end by May 31, but there are still three different budget plans on the table. They're roughly $2 billion apart on how much to spend.

Now lawmakers must decide whether to back one particular proposal or come up with a compromise.

(via Flickr/Richie Diesterheft)

When the Ways and Means committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen meets, anything goes as far as topics.

Today, it was the Department of Public Safety's turn on the hot seat, and pensions, recruiting and jail escapes were on the minds of the committee members. Here's a sampling of their concerns:

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

A respectful crowd of 85 parents and district activists filled seats at Vashon High School Monday night seeking some clarity on the 2011-2012 budget for the St. Louis Public Schools.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Three schools would be closed, and several others would undergo vast transformations, under a $273 million dollar budget proposal  unveiled last night by St. Louis Public Schools superintendent Kelvin Adams.

The proposed spending plan also marks a shift in budgeting philosophy for the district. Money in the past has been distributed to schools based on the number of people that work in the building.

Starting next year, the money would be allocated as a grant to schools based on several factors, including the percentage of special education and low-income students, average daily attendance, and whether the school is a magnet/choice school. Within reason - for example, they'll still have to meet state class size limits - principals will be able to set their own staffing plan.

"The whole challenge for a principal is to have ownership, and have control of the resources," said Adams, a former principal. "If I decide I want to have a larger third grade class - I have a great, dynamic third grade teacher, I'll put that teacher in that classroom," Adams said.  "But I may have a smaller fourth grade class because maybe things aren't working as well in my fourth grade group."

More details are after the break.

A budget that proposes laying off 20 city workers to help close a $30 million gap is in the hands of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

(via Flickr/alkruse24)

The Missouri Senate has passed a funding plan for public schools as it begins debate on a $23 billion proposed budget.

  • A Senate budget bill approved Wednesday would provide schools $3 billion in basic aid next year - the same amount as this year but an estimated $179 million less than called for under the school funding formula.

Legislators and Gov. Jay Nixon say the state cannot afford to pay schools the full amount they are due.

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