budget

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.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Counterproposal for Edward Jones Dome upgrades due tomorrow

The St. Louis Rams have until tomorrow to offer their own price tag for upgrades to the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis.

The Rams' lease requires the Dome to be in the "top tier" of stadiums in the National Football League. That tems is not clearly defined, but it's generally meant within the top 25 percent. Otherwise, the Rams are free to depart St. Louis in 2015.

The Missouri Senate Chamber
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio | file photo

The Missouri Senate convened Monday afternoon preparing to debate next year's state budget, and almost immediately Senator Jason Crowell launched a filibuster.

The Republican from Cape Girardeau had promised weeks ago that he would block the budget over its use of one-time funds to fill holes in next year’s spending plan.  Gradually throughout the evening, other fiscally conservative Senators joined in, including Jim Lembke (R, Lemay), Rob Schaaf (R, St. Joseph), and Luann Ridgeway (R, Smithville).

Early on, Crowell spent part of the filibuster lampooning the Missouri House for cutting pensions for the blind.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

A $966 million budget for the city of St. Louis has made it through the first of many hurdles at City Hall.

Mayor Francis Slay, comptroller Darlene Green, and Board of Aldermen president Lewis Reed - who make up the Board of Estimate and Apportionment - all approved the budget on Friday. That sends it to the Board of Aldermen, who can shift money around but cannot add to the overall level of spending.

via Flickr | jennlynndesign

Budget writers in the Missouri Senate have passed that chamber’s version of the state budget for next year.

The Senate plan is about $86 million smaller than the version passed by the House last month.  Cuts include $13 million from child care provider grants, $7 million from other childcare services, and $1 million from meals at state prisons.  Budget Chairman Kurt Schaefer (R, Columbia) acknowledges that many of the cuts target Medicaid.

The state of Missouri has stayed within a constitutional revenue limit for the 12th budget year in a row.

State auditor Tom Schweich released the yearly report on the Hancock amendment today. That amendment, passed in 1980, uses a mathematical formula to set a limit on the amount of personal income that can be used to fund the operations of state government. Any amount above that limit must be refunded to Missouri residents.

(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.

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