(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A Missouri House committee has dealt a setback to Gov. Jay Nixon's quest for $1 billion in federal high-speed rail money.

The House Budget Committee rejected an attempt Wednesday to insert the rail money into a state budget bill.

That comes just two weeks after Nixon held a news conference to announce Missouri was applying for $1 billion of the $2.4 billion of federal rail money that Florida decided not to use.

(Adam Allington/St. Louis Public Radio)

Will be updated as more information becomes available

Firefighters in the city of St. Louis got some better news today.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that the department will receive $3.2 million federal funds over the next two years in the form of a SAFER grant. (That stands for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response.)

(via Flickr/puroticorico)

Updated March 30th

A spokesman for Comptroller Darlene Green says the Board of Estimate and Apportionment can only act on layoffs proposed by the St. Louis Fire Department. The meeting last week was the first time the Board had a proposal to consider, said John Farrell, even though the department's overspending had been evident for nine months.

Our earlier story:

(via Flickr/jglazer75)

Updated 4:10 p.m. March 17, 2011 with Gov. Quinn's comments.

Gov. Pat Quinn says he opposes a package of budget cuts proposed by Illinois Senate Republicans.

The Chicago Democrat said Thursday the "foolhardy" cuts would kills jobs and weaken the economy just as Illinois recovers from a recession.

The Republican plan includes cuts to education, health care and local government. They estimate the savings at $6.7 billion.

The two biggest pieces are the most difficult.

The city's Board of Police Commissioners today approved changes to the department's budget for the 2012 fiscal year that will prevent the loss, through attrition, of 65 officers.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
  • The Missouri House took only an hour to debate and pass the state's budget for next year. The $23 billion spending plan holds K-through-12 spending in place while cutting higher education funding by seven percent. The full Missouri House is scheduled to take up the state budget the week of March 28th, right after lawmakers return from spring break.
  •  A task force focused on rural Missouri crime has recovered more than $2.5 million worth of stolen property in the past year and a half.

Last month, the news about the 2012 budget for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department wasn't good.

The department was looking at $2.5 million in cuts it couldn't make up by doing things like freezing salaries, cutting scholarships, and furloughing civilian employees.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Sen. Claire McCaskill says two new federal reports out about health care at the John Cochran veteran's hospital in St. Louis are only part of the picture she wants to get on that facility.

The inspector general on Monday released reports on problems with sterilization at the hospital's dental clinic, and on complaints from employees that they did not have the equipment they needed to do their jobs.

Those reports are important because they outline existing problems, McCaskill says, but the specifics on dealing with those problems have to come from veterans. And that's where her new customer satisfaction survey comes in.

"I really want to see this through the eyes of veterans. I want to know how they feel on an individual basis about the services they’re receiving, and I think that's going to be a very good measure of the work we have to do, she says."

(Office of Chris Kelly)

The amount Missouri hospitals charge the state for examinations to collect evidence from sexual assault victims varies widely between hospitals.

Lawmakers say the state should set a cap on the rates it pays.

Data from the Department of Public Safety shows the state paid $35.40 for a lab test at a Kansas City hospital and more than $1,500 for an examination at a Harrisonville hospital. The state paid an average of about $784 per examination last year.

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says Congress needs to play by the same rules as everyone else.

Speaking at her St. Louis office on Sunday, the Democratic Senator unveiled a package of reforms she says will help bring transparency and accountability to Congress.

McCaskill proposed creating an independent watchdog office to oversee Senate operations and take complaints from the public.