SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A major credit-rating house has taken a more positive outlook on Illinois debt than it has in years after last week's pension-reform vote.
Standard & Poor's affirmed its A- rating on state debt backed by general tax revenue Tuesday but revised its outlook from "negative" to "developing."
The ratings agency says "developing" means the rating could be raised or lowered in the next two years. Analyst Robin Prunty says the change is positive but risk remains because workers unions will likely sue over the pension law Gov. Pat Quinn signed Thursday.
The law reduces state workers' contributions to pensions but cuts their benefits in a 30-year plan to erase a $100 billion retirement-account deficit.
Quinn promised in a statement it would be the "first of many positive developments" for Illinois.
St. Louis County Police sounding another scam alert.
This time, criminals are targeting Ameren customers. The thieves are calling customers and demanding payment of their bill or they could have their power disconnected. The criminals insist on payment by a Green Dot MoneyPak card. Police say this is tricky, because as soon as you give a thief the PIN number on the card, your money is gone.
Ameren wants to remind customers, they will never demand payment over phone and do not ask for personal information such as a Social Security or bank account number.
If you suspect someone is impersonating an Ameren Missouri employee, end the conversation and immediately call Ameren Missouri, 1.800.552.7583.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon chose a monument to the space race manufacturing boon as a backdrop to sign into law a $1.7 billion tax incentive package to lure aerospace giant Boeing to the state.
The governor endorsed the tax breaks for production of the company's 777X jetliner Tuesday morning at a bill signing ceremony at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in St. Louis' Forest Park.
More than 100 civic and business leaders joined Nixon, hours before Boeing's self-imposed deadline for offers from eager local and state governments across the country. The presumed manufacturing site is on the edge of Lambert St. Louis International Airport.
The tax credits are worth up to $150 million annually over 23 years if Boeing meets its target of 8,000 new jobs.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A state panel says that former St. Louis mayor Freeman Bosley can expect to face disciplinary action from the Missouri Supreme Court for mishandling clients' legal fees.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Bosley acknowledged improper financial practices at his law firm during a Monday hearing of the court's Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel .
The state alleges Bosley combined his own money with clients' funds, used trust-account money to pay personal expenses and failed to keep accurate records. The state investigation shows Bosley may owe about $6,250 to third-party health care providers.
The disciplinary panel's punishment options include reprimand, probation, suspension and disbarment.
Bosley was St. Louis' first black mayor, elected in 1993. He lost a 1997 re-election bid and went into private law practice.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office has appealed the stay of execution for convicted killer Allen Nicklasson, calling the federal appeals court ruling "an abuse of discretion."
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday granted a stay for Nicklasson, scheduled to be put to death at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for killing businessman Richard Drummond nearly two decades ago.
Late Monday, Koster's office asked for a hearing before the full 8th Circuit. By Tuesday morning, no decision had been made on that appeal.
After going nearly three years without an execution, Missouri had been preparing for its second in three weeks. The state executed racist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin on Nov. 20. It was the first execution in Missouri using a single drug, pentobarbital.
The teachers' strike in Mount Olive, Illinois will continue despite six hours of talks between the school board and union officials last night.
Even with help from a federal mediator, no deal was reached. Union officials say the district is asking teachers to take a pay cut.
District officials say a shrinking student population and cuts in state funding mean the district has to make budget cuts.
But teachers say cutting their pay isn't fair because other district employees are getting pay raises. With no new talks scheduled until next Monday, the strike is expected to last at least another week.
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - A Pennsylvania-based real estate investment trust is buying the Casino Queen's real-estate assets in East St. Louis for $140 million.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the properties being bought by Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc. include the 38,000-square-foot casino, 157-room hotel and the park for recreational vehicles.
Based in Wyomissing, Pa., Gaming and Leisure Properties was spun off last month by Penn National Gaming Inc.
The employee-owned Casino Queen will lease the property back from the Gaming and Leisure Properties for about $14 million a year.
The Illinois Gaming Board must approve of the sale, which is expected to be finalized early next year.
The construction of a trench designed to keep the slow smoldering fire at the Bridgeton Landfill away from radioactive soil buried at the West Lake Landfill may have hit a snag. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that EPA testing has revealed more radioactive material at West Lake.
The paper reports that Florissant City Engineer Tim Barrett wrote about the newly discovered materials in a letter to Mayor Thomas Schneider. Barrett wrote that the EPA is expected to release a report on the new findings later this week.
Barrett also wrote that the location of the radioactive materials and the results of additional testing will determine how and where the trench will be built.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois fire officials are offering tips for a safe holiday season.
The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal says there were a dozen fires linked to holiday decorations, Christmas trees and other recreational materials in December 2012. That resulted in more than $85,000 of damage.
State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis says one of the keys to safety is to avoid overloading extension cords. His office also recommends using lights that have a label of an independent testing laboratory and knowing whether they're designed for indoor or outdoor use.
Fire officials say if you have a real Christmas tree, make sure it's watered. Also, make sure the tree isn't blocking an exit and is at least three feet away from a heat source.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says the state will build or rehabilitate nearly 1,500 affordable housing units statewide.
The Chicago Democrat said in a statement yesterday the apartments will ensure working families, seniors and people with disabilities have quality, affordable housing.
The work will be financed through a federal housing tax credit and the Illinois Housing Development Authority's Preservation Now program.
Residents must earn at or below 60 percent of the area median income to qualify for the units. That's about $35,000 in the Chicago area.
In Edwardsville, an existing independent living development serving seniors and people with disabilities will be rehabilitated, and a new wing built, creating and preserving 70 affordable apartments.
In Aurora, the state plans to acquire and rehabilitate 40 vacant single-family homes. In Chicago, a 106-unit development for seniors will be built on the site of an abandoned building and unused tennis courts.
Units also are planned for the Bloomington-Normal area, Galesburg, Marion and Springfield.