JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have prepared a budget that could force Gov. Jay Nixon to choose between developmentally disabled children and low-income seniors.
The nearly $25 billion operating budget being considered Thursday by lawmakers assumes more than $55 million of savings from the elimination of a tax break for low-income seniors and disabled residents who live in rental housing.
The budget would spend that money on early childhood programs for the developmentally disabled, health care for the blind and medical clinics that treat low-income people.
Nixon has said he would veto a repeal of the renters tax break unless it's part of a broader tax-credit overhaul. But if he does, then the early childhood programs and health care initiatives would lose money.
Lawmakers hope that will compel Nixon to accept the plan.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A union-backed alternative for fixing the Illinois pension crisis gets a test vote Wednesday afternoon in Springfield.
A Senate committee is holding a hearing on the measure giving workers and retirees a choice of benefit packages. Senate President John Cullerton says it saves money and would survive a legal challenge.
Critics say it won't save enough money.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers have until Friday to finalize the state's roughly $25 billion operating budget.
The House and Senate have each passed their own budget and now must hammer out an agreement on the spending plan that will take effect July 1. Budget negotiators were scheduled to begin formal talks Monday, but delayed that until Tuesday.
The House and Senate must reconcile differences on higher education funding and whether to keep intact cuts made to state agencies over concerns about the new drivers' license procedures.
One item not up for debate this week is Gov. Jay Nixon's plan to draw down nearly $1 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage for about 260,000 adults. Neither the House nor Senate included the federal money in their budget proposals.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - State senators are expected to consider two possible paths toward addressing the nation's worst pension crisis.
One option is legislation approved in the Illinois House last week. That bill is sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan. It would require public employees to pay 2 percent more toward their retirement benefits. It would also reduce annual cost-of-living increases for retirees and raise the retirement age for workers under 45.
Labor unions also are expected to pitch a plan. The details of that proposal have not been disclosed. But a spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton says it would offer employees a choice between health insurance or cost-of-living increases.
Lawmakers are expected to discuss the two options in a closed-door meeting on Monday before convening on the Senate floor.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has approved a comprehensive pension-reform plan for the first time after years of talks.
The House voted 62-51 Thursday to advance the measure sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan.
The Chicago Democrat's proposal is designed to close a $97 billion deficit that dogs the state's pension plans. Underfunding for decades has left the accounts short of what they need.
The legislation requires employees to contribute 2 percent more of their earnings to their pensions. They would also have to delay retirement and accept less-generous annual cost-of-living increases.
The state would guarantee it would make its required contribution every year.
The measure now goes to the Senate where President John Cullerton has his own ideas about reform.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has passed a bill that would allow designated school personnel to carry concealed weapons in school buildings.
The Senate voted 26-6 Thursday to pass the measure. It now heads back to the House for further consideration.
The bill would allow school employees to voluntary become "protection officers" if they have a valid concealed weapons permit and undergo training for the position.
The legislation would also lower the minimum age required to obtain a concealed weapons permit from 21 to 19. It would also allow firearms of less than 16 inches to be openly carried even in municipalities that have ordinances against it.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri senators are considering a measure to impose tough attendance requirements for students receiving state-sponsored scholarships.
Sponsoring Republican Sen. David Pearce, of Warrensburg, says the bill is designed to help students finish their degrees on time. It would require them to take a defined number of credit hours per semester to remain eligible for aid.
The Bright Flight, Access Missouri and the A+ Schools Program would be affected.
The measure has already won first-round approval and is expected to be sent to the House this week.
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.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Todd Akin isn't ruling out a political comeback, nearly six months after losing Missouri's U.S. Senate race amid widespread criticism of his comments about "legitimate rape."
Akin recently spoke to KSDK-TV in his first interview since losing the November election to Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill. He said he's ready for a comeback, but hasn't decided if that will be in academia, public speaking, or even politics.
The 65-year-old Republican was a 12-year congressman from suburban St. Louis who won a tough Senate primary in August. His campaign took a hit after he remarked in a TV interview that women's bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy from what he called "legitimate rape."
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Several hundred gun-rights advocates rallied at the state Capitol as the Missouri House voted to allow certain school personnel to carry concealed weapons in school buildings.
The House voted 115-41 to send the measure to the Senate Thursday.
The Missouri Sports Shooter Association held a previously scheduled rally in the Capitol rotunda while the House was debating the bill. Many lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, spoke at the event and promised to continue to push for more gun rights.
The House bill would also lower the minimum age required to carry concealed weapons and allow firearms less than 16 inches to be openly carried by people with valid permits.