Gov. Jay Nixon will sign the 2012 budget for the state of Missouri - and cuts to the $23 billion spending plan are already in the works.
The governor said two weeks ago he would have to cut at least $113 million. Much of that is due to unplanned expenses from the Joplin tornado and flooding in southeast Missouri. More cuts could be necessary as the state is now also responding to floods along the Missouri River in the northwest corner of the state.
Tornados swept through eastern Missouri yesterday, damaging homes and yanking down power lines. No injuries were reported.
The Pike County Sheriff's Department says the storm hit the Bowling Green area late yesterday afternoon, and that three tornadoes were seen in the county in a 45-minute period. Some homes in the Clarksville area had roof damage, and barns and outbuildings in rural Pike County also were damaged.
A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals has dismissed two lawsuits filed by Attorney General Chris Koster that argued debt collection companies were violating the state's Merchandising Practices Act.
The rulings appear to be the first time a state court has considered whether the MPA applies to third-party actors like debt collectors.
Missouri officials say freight has started moving again on the Missouri River – even before the official start of the shipping season. The Missouri Department of Transportation says that cement, fertilizer and other freight was being transported on the river this week. The U.S. Coast Guard is to place navigational buoys on the waterway April 1. State transportation officials say their goal is to boost the amount of products moved by barge on the Missouri River. About 334,000 tons of freight was transported on the river last year, up about 24 percent from 2009.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says the federal health care law's legal fate is still uncertain. Koster's statement comes in response to three Republican officials who asked him whether he thought the law could be enforced in Missouri. Two federal judges upheld the health care overhaul. A third struck down the insurance requirement, and a fourth ruled the entire law is unconstitutional. Appeals courts will consider those rulings. Koster says Missouri risks possible sanctions by not complying with the law while waiting for a definitive ruling. Koster says lawmakers and the governor will have to weigh the risks of possible sanctions against costs for complying with the law. The GOP officials who requested the legal analysis criticized Koster's response for not being sufficiently specific.
Trustees at the University of Illinois are scheduled to vote on a plan to increase tuition by 6.9 percent for students who start this fall. That means new students at the university's Urbana-Champaign campus would pay $11,104 a year in tuition. Students at the Chicago campus would pay $9,764, while students in Springfield would pay $8,670. Those figures don't include fees, room and board. Last year, trustees raised tuition by 9.5 percent. University spokesman Thomas Hardy calls the increase trustees are scheduled to consider today "a conservative proposal." Hardy says it keeps in mind the concerns of families and the financial needs of the university.
South County Republican state Senator Jim Lembke says the opinion issued last week by attorney general Chris Koster still doesn't convince him that some municipal ordinances authorizing red light cameras are legal.
Parts of Missouri are cleaning up after strong storms swept across the state overnight. The storms may have resulted in a few tornadoes late last night and early this morning. High winds knocked down power lines and trees in parts of the St. Louis area. There were no reports of injuries. Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were common in the St. Louis area.
Crews with Ameren Missouri are working to restore power to thousands of customers throughout Missouri.