Illinois budget

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Brian Mackey contributed reporting from Springfield.

An Illinois state House committee has approved sweeping changes to public employee pensions.

It's one of Gov. Pat Quinn's priorities for the legislative session that ends on Thursday.

Current and retired state and university employees, and public school teachers would face a difficult choice; keep their health care in retirement and have future pay raises count toward their pensions, but a smaller cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), or keep the current 3 percent compounding COLA but lose health care.

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Out-migration is costing St. Louis County money

More people are moving out of St. Louis County than moving in – and they’re taking money with them.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch cites Internal Revenue Service figures that show those who left the county between 2001 and 2010 earned on average $8,000 more than those who moved in. And about 52,000 more people left the county than moved in.

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Todd Epsten dies; former president of the Board of Police Commissioners was chair of the state's largest liquor distributor

The former head of the appointed board that oversees the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has died.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Todd Epsten, who was the chairman of liquor distributor Major Brands, died Saturday of brain cancer. He was 52.

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St. Louis police express concerns with cameras in patrol cars

Officers with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department are seeking ways to avoid driving patrol cars equipped with cameras over concerns that footage from the cameras is being used against them.

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Will be updated. Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

Democrats in the Illinois Senate are proposing a budget that would hold education spending flat and pay a chunk of the state's pile of overdue bills.

But doing that would require cuts to public safety and most other areas of government, as well as dipping into money set aside for special purposes.

Democratic Senator Dan Kotowski from Park Ridge says the budget proposal addresses citizens' wants.

(via Flickr/JimBowen0306)

Reporting from Amanda Vinicky was used in this story.

Like its counterpart in Missouri, the Illinois General Assembly is heading into the home stretch.

Lawmakers there have a bit more time to get through their agenda - their session isn't scheduled to end until the end of May. But unlike lawmakers in Missouri, Illinois legislators have a monumental task in front of them - passing a state budget.

Most state agencies will have their budget cut by 9 percent.

IndofunkSatish/via Flickr

Judge approves settlement in lawsuit over mental health care for the deaf

A federal judge has approved a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought against two Missouri state agencies on behalf of more than a thousand deaf residents.

Plaintiffs in the 2010 lawsuit alleged that the state departments of Mental Health and Social Services failed to provide adequate mental health care for deaf persons in crisis.

The departments were sued under the  Americans with Disabilities Act.

(via Flickr/Cast a Line)

School buses might be the next victim of the Illinois budget crisis.

Education officials are considering a proposal to let schools stop offering free bus service. They could either get rid of the buses or charge for carrying students each day.

The change would be part of a new system for distributing state money for student transportation. The State Board of Education could introduce legislation this week.

The Illinois Association of School Boards says transportation spending has been slashed 42 percent since 2010.

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Updated 1:56 p.m. with correction from The Associated Press on Medicaid percentage. 

Virtually all parts of state government would be forced to cut spending under a budget outline approved by the Illinois House.

The measure requires cutting Medicaid by $2.7 billion, or about 14 percent (percentage earlier read 25 percent, has been corrected). Spending on services from schools to prisons would fall by about $900 million.

The House approved it 91-16 on Thursday. Now it goes to the state Senate.

Flickr Creative Commons/Glamour Schatz

Mo. Senate preparing to send workplace discrimination bill to Nixon today

The Missouri Senate is preparing today to pass the House version of the workplace discrimination bill and send it to Governor Jay Nixon. 

Senate Democrats, however, voiced their opposition Wednesday by blocking the bill for nearly five hours. 

The filibuster was led by Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal of St. Louis County. 

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