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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Amid the risk of losing millions of dollars in federal transportation funding, Missouri lawmakers are considering changes to rules for commercial driver's licenses.

State House members this week gave initial approval to legislation that seeks to comply with federal regulations dealing with learning permits for commercial driver's licenses and with restrictions on texting and using hand-held cellphones while driving a commercial vehicle.

The Missouri Transportation Department says the state could lose $30 million for one year and $60 million annually after that if it doesn't act quickly enough.

The legislation needs another round of approval in the House before it can move to the Senate. Lawmakers have until their mandatory adjournment on May 17 to approve new legislation.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers could seek to include money for state Capitol repairs in a proposed $1.2 billion state bonding proposal.

A measure endorsed this week by the House Budget Committee would include $100 million for work on the roughly century-old Capitol. The full House could consider the bonding package as early as next week. Voter approval ultimately would be required before bonds are issued.

State officials say years of water infiltration have taken a toll on the Capitol. In part of the basement, stalactites hang from the ceiling and the concrete is damaged. It's estimated to cost $40 million to $45 million to address infrastructure needs such as waterproofing, substructure repairs and fixing exterior stone.

Published in Local News

   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Republican senators have made it clear that there will be no Medicaid expansion in Missouri this session.

   The Republican-led Senate voted down a Democratic attempt Monday night to insert $890 million of federal funds into Missouri's budget to expand Medicaid eligibility to an estimated 260,000 lower-income adults.

   The vote was just the latest in a series of similar defeats in the Missouri Legislature for the Medicaid expansion backed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and called for under President Barack Obama's health care law.

   But this vote carried a bit more weight. That's because it ensured that neither the Senate nor the House version of the budget includes the Medicaid expansion. Under legislative rules, negotiators cannot insert money into the final budget that wasn't in either chamber's plan.

 
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri senators are considering a nearly $25 billion budget plan that may be most notable for what it doesn't contain.

Senate debate on the budget began Monday with education funding among the first items up. The budget includes a $66 million increase on top of the current $3 billion in basic aid for public schools. But that still falls $620 million short of what's called for by a state formula.

Later Monday, senators were to discuss more contentious topics. The Senate budget plan wipes out funding for the motor vehicle and driver's license division. The intent is to register senators' disapproval of licensing procedures that include making electronic copies of applicants' personal documents.

Like the House, the Senate plan includes no money for Gov. Jay Nixon's proposed Medicaid expansion.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri social service officials have told a House panel the state could save $28 million annually by moving people from welfare programs onto federal disability payments.

The Republican-led committee is investigating a contract that pays Boston-based Public Consulting Group $2,300 for every Missouri resident moved onto disability payments.

Officials with the Department of Social Services told the panel Monday the contracts saves money for the state and assigns people to the appropriate program.

People on welfare are required to engage in job-seeking activities. Committee Chairman Rep. Jay Barnes, of Jefferson City, says people receiving disability payments are unlikely to seek work because it would negatively affect their federal benefits. Barnes called for the hearing in early April.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has passed a nearly $25 billion budget that would fund modest increases for public education but not the Medicaid expansion sought by Gov. Jay Nixon.

<br><br>

House approval of the budget Thursday sends it to the Senate, where more changes are likely.

<br><br>

The 2014 budget plan would provide a roughly 2 percent increase in basic aid for public K-12 schools, colleges and universities. But school funding would still fall $620 million short of what's called for under a state formula.

<br><br>

Missouri's Tourism Division would get one of the largest percentage increases in the budget - from nearly $14 million this year to almost $20 million next year.

<br><br>

The budget leaves out more than $900 million of federal funds that Nixon had recommended for a Medicaid expansion.

 

Published in Local News
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri airports in Branson and Columbia are among those that will have their towers shut down by the Federal Aviation Administration because of federal budget cuts.

Towers at the Branson Airport and Columbia Regional Airport will stop operations.

The closures will not force the shutdown of either airport. But pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers under procedures that all pilots are trained to carry out.

The plan has raised concerns over the impact on safety and the potential financial effect on communities that rely on airports as economic engines for attracting business.
Published in Local News
Saturday, 23 March 2013 07:24

Senate Dems push through budget blueprint

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats staked out their position this morning in the budget battle with Republicans after a long night of considering amendments to a $3.7 trillion package for next year.

The non-binding blueprint passed by a near party line, 50-49 vote. It calls for almost $1 trillion in tax increases over the coming decade while sheltering safety net programs. The House version only envisions spending cuts to balance the budget.

The Democratic plan also proposes to reverse automatic spending cuts that are beginning to strike both the Pentagon and domestic programs.

President Barack Obama's long-overdue budget is scheduled to be released March 8.
Published in National News
The Associated Press compared how the budget proposals by Senate Democrats and House Republicans stack up over the next decade:

___

Total spending

Senate Democrats: $46.5 trillion
House Republicans: $41.7 trillion

___

Total revenue

Senate Democrats: $41.2 trillion
House Republicans: $40.2 trillion

___

10-year deficit

Senate Democrats: $5.4 trillion
House Republicans: $1.4 trillion

___

National debt at end of 2023

Senate Democrats: $24.4 trillion
House Republicans: $20.3 trillion

___

Social Security

Senate Democrats: $11.3 trillion
House Republicans: $11.3 trillion

___

Medicare

Senate Democrats: $6.8 trillion
House Republicans: $6.7 trillion

___

Health, including Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program

Senate Democrats: $6.6 trillion
House Republicans: $4.0 trillion

___

National defense

Senate Democrats: $6.0 trillion
House Republicans: $6.2 trillion

___

Income security, including housing assistance, cash benefits and food stamps

Senate Democrats: $5.6 trillion
House Republicans: $5.0 trillion

___

Interest on national debt

Senate Democrats: $5.2 trillion
House Republicans: $4.5 trillion

___

Veterans benefits and services

Senate Democrats: $1.7 trillion
House Republicans: $1.7 trillion

___

International Affairs, including foreign aid

Senate Democrats: $506 billion
House Republicans: $431 billion

___

Education, training, employment and social services

Senate Democrats: $1.1 trillion
House Republicans: $906 billion

___

Transportation

Senate Democrats: $919 billion
House Republicans: $801 billion

___

Agriculture

Senate Democrats: $205 billion House Republicans: $196 billion

___

Natural resources and environment

Senate Democrats: $474 billion
House Republicans: $385 billion

___

Community and regional development

Senate Democrats: $268 billion
House Republicans: $88 billion

___

Sources: Senate Democratic and House Republican budget proposals.
Published in National News
WASHINGTON (AP) — In spite of budget wrangling and finger-pointing by U.S. policymakers, the government's short-term fiscal picture isn't all that bad. It's actually getting better — at least for now.

Washington is borrowing about 25 cents for every dollar it spends, down from over 40 cents just a few years ago.

And the budget deficit is dropping to $845 billion after topping $1 trillion for four straight years. The Congressional Budget Office says the deficit will keep shrinking — to $430 billion by 2015.

That's the good news.

But without a fix, the government's finances will start to worsen again as the three major "entitlement" programs — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — become more and more expensive and unmanageable under the increasing weight of retiring baby boomers.
Published in National News
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