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CHICAGO (AP) - Public employees could see significant reductions in long-term retirement income under a proposed bill that Illinois legislative leaders are pushing as a way to solve the worst-in-the-nation pension crisis. One of the biggest cuts would come from a change in annual cost-of-living adjustments. The proposal would change the COLA increase from the current rate of 3 percent compounded annually on the full annuity benefit. Retirees instead would receive increases at that rate only up to a certain amount of annuity benefit.

The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability has developed a formula to calculate estimated changes in retirement income over the years if the bill passes, based on the best information available right now, pension specialist Amanda Kass said.

Here are three scenarios:

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Employee 1: Retired teacher, 30 years of service

Initial annual benefit: $67,000

Annual pension benefit after 20 years of retirement: $120,680 a year under the current pension system; $91,000 under the proposed changes

Cumulative 20-year decrease: $282,632

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Employee 2: Retired Department of Children and Family Services caseworker, 20 years of service

Initial annual benefit: $50,000

Annual pension benefit after 20 years of retirement: $90,306 under current system; $63,000 under proposed changes

Cumulative 20-year decrease: $261,215

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Employee 3: Central Management Services data processor, age 43, planning to retire in 15 years with 30 years of service

Initial annual benefit: $72,000

Annual pension benefit after 20 years of retirement: $130,000 under current system; $85,400 under proposed changes

Cumulative 20-year decrease: $441,700

Tuesday, 03 December 2013 13:11
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 Police say an employee of an Ellisville jewelry store fired a gun at two men who robbed the store this morning.

The incident started just after 10 AM when one of the suspects asked an employee to show him an expensive watch. The suspect then grabbed the watch and ran in the parking lot. Two employees chased the suspect out of the store. Officers say there was a physical altercation between the suspects and employees in the parking lot. But, when the suspect got into a waiting car, one of the employees pulled out a gun and fired several shots at the suspects.

Police captured the suspects after a short car chase ended in a crash near the Chesterfield mall. Officers recovered the watch the men had stolen--a Rolex worth nearly $35,000.

The suspects have not been identified.

Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:23
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CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois is beginning to let immigrants apply for a driver's license if they're living in the U.S. illegally.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports appointments begin Tuesday for people to take license tests at two locations - one in Chicago and one in Springfield.

Four locations will offer the license exams by the end of the month. And about three dozen will offer the exams in January.

So far, more than 5,500 people have scheduled appointments.

The licenses are valid for three years and may be used only for driving. They can't be used as identification for activities like boarding a plane, voting or buying a firearm.

Supporters say the law will save Illinois motorists money and make roads safer. But critics say there's a potential for identity fraud.

Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:21
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   A 53 year old Belleville man shot to death as he opened his front door Saturday night was not the intended target, police say.  

   The St. Clair County State's Attorney has charged 36 year old Dashon Hinkle with first-degree murder in the shooting of John Fath Senior.  

   Belleville police say Hinkle had gone to Fath's home in the 400 block of North 40th Street to "pay a visit" to the victim's son, John Fath Junior.  

   Police say the junior Fath and Hinkle both have long criminal records.  

   Hinkle is jailed on a $2 million bond.

Tuesday, 03 December 2013 03:26
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   The Edwardsville School District will be building an aquatic center with an Olympic-sized swimming pool at its sports complex thanks to a four-million dollar donation from the Charles and Sharon Fruit Foundation.  The center will be named the Chuck Fruit Aquatic Center in honor of the late Chuck Fruit, a 1965 Edwardsville High School graduate.  

   The EGHM Foundation, a local business group that raises money for district projects, will fund the remaining $1.3 million needed for the project. 

Tuesday, 03 December 2013 03:21
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   SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers are set to consider a potentially historic plan to solve the state's worst-in-the-nation $100 billion pension crisis.

   Tuesday will begin with a morning hearing where a bipartisan committee of lawmakers will discuss the proposal. Opponents and supporters also will get a chance to weigh in.

   A clear majority of committee members signed off on the plan Monday, sending it to the floor of the House and Senate.

   Illinois has the nation's worst-funded state pension systems. The bill before the Legislature on Tuesday is estimated to save $160 billion over 30 years by trimming retirement benefits.

   Illinois' legislative leaders and the governor have spent recent days drumming up support for the proposal.

   Labor unions say it's unfair to retirees and believe that some elements are unconstitutional.

 
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 03:19
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   St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay will be in Jefferson City Tuesday to testify in favor of tax breaks aimed at luring Boeing's 777X plant to St. Louis.  

   Yesterday, a bill was introduced that would expand state tax credit programs by $150 million for aerospace companies that create at least 2,000 jobs in Missouri.  

   Slay will make the case to a Senate subcommittee that landing the Boeing plant would be good for the St. Louis region and the whole state.  

   Governor Jay Nixon says Missouri is facing a December 10th deadline to submit an offer to Boeing.  

Tuesday, 03 December 2013 02:25
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Missouri State Representative Steve Webb is resigning his position.

Webb came under fire last month for allegedly using the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus' name to steal money. Prosecutors say that Webb solicited a $3,000 donation to sponsor a black caucus reception in Washington. Instead, court documents say Webb transferred the money to a personal account.

In a statement released Monday, Webb said he believes allegations against him will "work themselves out", but that resigning is the right thing to do for his family and colleagues.

Webb, a Democrat, faces one felony stealing charge and seven misdemeanor charges for misuse of campaign money. 

Monday, 02 December 2013 16:59
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A bipartisan committee of lawmakers has approved a plan to deal with Illinois' $100 billion pension problem. The measure now moves to the House and Senate for consideration.

The Associated Press confirmed with six members of the 10-member panel that they had signed the measure Monday after arriving in Springfield for a special session.

Leaders announced the plan last week. It comes nearly five months after a special committee was formed to tackle the problem.

The proposal pushes back workers' retirement age on a sliding scale, has a funding guarantee, adds a 401k-style option and reduces the employee contribution.

It also would replace the current 3 percent annual cost-of-living increases. Retirees would continue to receive that rate up to a certain amount of annuity payments, based on years of employment.

Monday, 02 December 2013 16:38
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St. Louis Police are expanding the hot-spot police efforts to a pair of south city neighborhoods.

The increased patrols started at 10 AM and are focusing on Tower Grove South and Gravois Park. The hot spot program focuses additional police coverage on areas that have seen an up-tick in crime. In October, police focused on the Lewis Place and Fountain Park neighborhoods in north city.

In just a week, officers found three guns and made more than 20 arrests. Residents in the area should expect to see more uniformed and plain clothes officers.

Monday, 02 December 2013 16:01
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