Illinois budget | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Reporting from WBEZ's Alex Keefe used in this report.

Governor Pat Quinn is defending his plan to close a super-maximum security prison in southern Illinois.

The governor's office says closing Tamms prison would save the state nearly $22 million next year. Quinn says it costs more than 64,000 per year to lock up a prisoner there - about three times the statewide average.

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Even though the recession is over and Illinois' budget is padded with last year's income tax hike, money is still tight in state government. This puts Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in a difficult position as he lays out his budget for the next year.

The Governor will give his budget address today at noon at the Illinois Capitol and it will be full of gloom.  And he is not even wading into the thick of the fiscal mess.  Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky explains.

“The toughest budget we’ve ever faced.”

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Gov. Pat Quinn's proposed Illinois budget calls for closing 14 state facilities, including eight run by the Corrections Department.

A person who has seen the budget proposal told The Associated Press on Tuesday it would close four facilities run by the Human Services Department and two run by Juvenile Justice, as well as the eight Corrections Department facilities. The targeted Corrections facilities won't all be prisons.

The person was not authorized to discuss the governor's plans publicly and would speak only on the condition of anonymity.

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Updated 2:39 p.m. with report from WBEZ's Alex Keefe.

State worker pensions and Medicaid funding could be on the chopping block when Illinois' governor outlines his budget proposal this week.

Governor Pat Quinn says the budget plan he'll unveil Wednesday will bring state spending back down to where it was in 2008.

But he says the seed of the state's current fiscal mess was planted even earlier - by his predecessors.

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Gov. Pat Quinn says he'll propose closing "quite a few" Illinois state facilities in his budget address next week.

Quinn, a Democrat, did not give the Associated Press any specifics about the closures, saying details will come during his budget address next Wednesday.

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Services set for Tyler Dasher

Services are set for early next week for a 13-month-old suburban St. Louis boy who authorities say was fatally beaten by his mother.

SIUC faculty set strike date

Oct 21, 2011
(via Southern Illinois University-Carbondale)

Reporting by WSIU's Jennifer Fuller was used in this report.

The union representing tenured and tenure-track employees at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale has set a strike date.

The SIUC Faculty Association says its members will walk off the job on Nov. 3 if they cannot reach an agreement with the university on a new contract. The last contract expired in June 2010.

An arbitrator has ordered Gov. Pat Quinn to cancel his plan to lay off state employees and close several prisons and mental facilities.

Arbitrator Edwin Benn ruled Monday that Quinn's plan would violate his agreement with a major union. The Democratic governor signed a deal last year that promised no layoffs or closures if the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees agreed to various cost-cutting measures.

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A new report says Illinois remains in deep budget trouble.

The government watchdog group the Civic Federation says in a Monday report that Illinois could be $8.3 billion in the red when the fiscal year ends next June.

The news comes despite a significant boost in the state income tax rate.

The $8.3 billion includes $5.5 billion in unpaid bills and another $2.8 billion from a payment backlog for Medicaid, employee health insurance bills and business tax refunds.

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A federal judge has ruled against state employees in a dispute over whether Gov. Pat Quinn can cancel raises promised in union contracts.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said Thursday it will appeal the ruling.

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Mo. Senate to consider new measure repealing teacher social media restrictions

A Mo. Senate committee has endorsed a measure to repeal a contentious new law restricting teachers' interaction with students over websites such as Facebook. The Senate Education Committee voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to repeal the law.

The action comes after  a Mo. judge issued an order in September blocking the new law from taking effect, citing concerns that it could violate free speech rights.

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Gov. Pat Quinn is defending signing a budget that state officials say didn't fully fund 12 of 14 agencies even before the Chicago Democrat canceled raises for thousands of state workers.

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Updated 1:21 with story from WBEZ.

Reporting from WBEZ's Sam Hudzik used in this report.

A victory today for a public employee union in Illinois.

An arbitrator says Governor Pat Quinn cannot cancel pay raises promised to state workers, but the issue is far from settled.

(Here's a link to the full text of the decision from the arbitrator)

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

A major state employee union has asked an arbitrator to decide whether Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn can cancel scheduled raises for thousands of workers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees sought the ruling Thursday. Quinn announced last week he was canceling the $75 million in raises to help deal with the state's budget crisis.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn says he's ready to go to court over canceling pay raises for nearly 30,000 state workers.

Quinn defended his decision to deny the raises by blaming the General Assembly for not appropriating the necessary money. He said Tuesday the state can't provide the increase unless lawmakers set aside enough money.

The raises are required under state government's union contracts.

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Updated 1:39 p.m. and again at 3:27 p.m. with information about union.

Gov. Pat Quinn wants to cancel raises for thousands of state employees to help cope with the Illinois budget crisis.

The administration notified 14 state agencies and the affected unions that the 2 percent raises won't be paid as required by contract.

Quinn's office said Friday that lawmakers did not provide enough money in the new budget to cover raises for nearly 30,000 employees.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

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

Mere hours before the start of a new fiscal year, Ill. Governor Pat Quinn signed a new state budget into law. But not without making some changes to it.

Immediately after legislators sent Quinn a budget, he panned it for not spending enough - especially when it comes to education.

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Loughner can be forcibly medicated

A federal judge has ruled that prison officials can forcibly medicate Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner with anti-psychotic drugs.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns says he did not want to second guess doctors at a federal prison in Springfield, Mo. Burns issued the decision yesterday after Loughner's attorneys filed an emergency request to prevent any forced medication of their client.

Defense attorneys said Loughner had been forcibly medicated since June 21. 

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Ill. General Assembly Approves Budget

Schools are traditionally an area Illinois legislators have left untouched when they're looking to cut spending. But the budget the General Assembly approved Monday night gives 3 percent less to education for the coming year that begins in July.

Overall cuts are wide ranging and total $2.3 billion less than what Gov. Pat Quinn proposed  in Feb. That was enough for Republicans in the House, but the Senate GOP says it's still too rich.

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Illinois businesses waiting for long-overdue tax refunds aren't getting any good news from the state capitol.

Illinois owes about $850 million to roughly 36,000 businesses that overpaid their income taxes. Some have been waiting since 2008 to get their money.

Gov. Pat Quinn proposed borrowing money to pay the refunds, but legislators have shown little interest in that idea.

Budget proposals being considered by Democratic lawmakers would do little to chip away at the backlog.

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