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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A new budget plan in the Missouri House would make millions of dollars for public schools and universities contingent upon a strong economy.
 
A proposal outlined Wednesday by House Budget Chairman Rick Stream would provide a $122 million increase in basic aid for public school districts. That's based on revenue projections agreed to by Republican House and Senate leaders.
 
Stream's budget would provide an additional $156 million funding increase for schools only if the state meets more optimistic revenue projections cited by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.
 
Stream's budget also provides a smaller increase than Nixon had proposed for the operating budgets of public colleges and universities. He instead proposes tens of millions of dollars for university construction projects, some of which again would be contingent on meeting Nixon's revenue projections.
Published in Local News
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 15:13

Illinois budget heads to full House

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois House Committee says the state will have $34.5 billion to spend in the upcoming fiscal year.
   Lawmakers approved a resolution for 2015 spending on Tuesday.
   Marion Democrat John Bradley is the chairman of the Revenue and Finance Committee. He says the number factors in the January 2015 expiration of the state's temporary income tax increase. The current Illinois budget has $35.6 billion in revenue.
 
   Bradley says budgeters will be cautious and prudent this spring.
 
   Lawmakers face an anticipated $3 billion budget hole that comes from the expiration of the tax increase as well as about $1.3 billion in increased costs to required programs and services.
   The measure now heads to the full House.
 
   The House will negotiate the budget with the Senate, which also approves revenue amounts.
 
Published in Local News
   CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn heads into a critical election-year State of the State address this week with his top priority of pension reform inked into the law.
   The speech on Wednesday is a chance for Quinn to lay out goals for the year and recap his accomplishments.
   But how much credit the Chicago Democrat can take for what he's called the signature achievement of his governorship is up for debate.
   Quinn has won praise for keeping pension reform in the public sphere with his populist tactics, like withholding legislator pay. Pension reform was once a topic more common among economists and business groups.
   However, he's also been criticized for those methods and not doing more to broker the deal himself. Some say he only took notice when there weren't other options.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's transportation chief is warning that the state won't have enough money to maintain its roads in a few years.
 
The state's construction budget for roads and bridges has fallen from about $1.3 billion annually five years ago to $685 million this year. Transportation Department Director Dave Nichols said Thursday that the annual road-and-bridge budget is projected to fall to about $325 million in 2017.
 
That's considerably shy of the $485 million annually that Nichols says it takes to maintain the highway system in its current condition.
 
Nichols spoke at a transportation conference in Jefferson City hosted by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
 
Some of those at the conference are pushing a proposed ballot initiative that would ask voters to impose a 1-cent sales tax for transportation.
 
Published in Local News
   With dangerous sub-zero wind chills back in the St. Louis area, city officials are scrambling to fund an overflow shelter for the homeless that's already blown its budget.  
   The mayor's office says the community center at Tucker and Park costs about $1000 a night to keep open.  It provides shelter for 125 people.  The city's budget allotted for 20 days of operation this winter.  But because of the unusual amount of cold and snow, the shelter has already been open for 27 days, and the winter is only half over.  
   St. Louis Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff told Fox 2 News that the budget can't dictate the city's response to the cold.  "Mayor Slay has made it very clear," Siedhoff said.  "This is a necessity.  We will find the money.  We will find it some place.  We have to.  It’s a responsibility the city has."
   Siedhoff says the shelter will remain open as long as the extreme weather continues.
 
Published in Local News
 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri lawmakers could have to cut about $370 million from Gov. Jay Nixon's budget if they don't want to go along with his financial assumptions.
   Republican legislative leaders were still fuming Wednesday about Nixon's budget proposal, a day after he outlined it as part of his State of the State address.
   During a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Chairman Kurt Schaefer (SHAY'-fer) told the Democratic governor's budget director that Nixon's plan "is an absolute political fiction."
 
   Nixon's budget assumes stronger revenue growth than Republican lawmakers believe will occur. It also assumes lawmakers will generate new revenues or cost-savings by expanding Medicaid eligibility, offering amnesty to overdue taxpayers and tweaking various revenue-collection laws.
   If lawmakers reject those things, they would have to trim about $370 million of spending from Nixon's budget.
Published in Local News
Thursday, 12 December 2013 01:54

A look at the congressional budget agreement

   A proposed congressional budget agreement would avoid a government shutdown in January and set spending for defense and domestic programs. It would:

   —Establish overall non-war-related discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion and $1.014 trillion for fiscal 2015. Discretionary spending is the money approved by Congress each year for agency operations. The House budget level had been $967 billion and the Senate $1.058 trillion for the year that runs through next Sept. 30. Fiscal 2013 discretionary spending was $986 billion.

   —Ease the across-the-board "sequester" spending cuts by $63 billion over two years, split between defense and domestic programs. In the current fiscal year, defense would be set at a base budget of $520.5 billion and domestic programs at $491.8 billion.

   —Increase airline security fees from $5 to $11.20 for a typical round-trip ticket starting July 1, 2014. That would raise $13 billion over 10 years. Current fees are $2.50 per leg with a maximum fee of $10 for a round-trip with connecting flights or $5 for a nonstop round-trip fare.

   —Reduce retirement benefits for working-age military retirees. The cost-of-living adjustment would be modified equal to inflation minus 1 percent. The changes would be phased in, with no change in the current year, a 0.25 percent reduction in December 2014 and a 0.5 percent decrease in December 2015. The change would not apply to retirees who left the service because of disability or injury. It would apply to retirees under the age of 62. The change would save $6 billion.

   —Increase by 1.3 percentage points the pension contributions paid by federal civilian workers hired after Jan. 1, 2014. Raise $6 billion.

   —Restrict access to Social Security death records to prevent identity thieves from filing fraudulent tax returns. Save $269 million.

   —Raise premiums paid by corporations to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. to guarantee pension benefits. Raise $8 billion.

   —Eliminate a requirement that the Maritime Administration reimburse other federal agencies for additional costs associated with shipping food aid on U.S. ships. Saves $731 million.

   —Cancel $1.6 billion in unobligated balances in Justice and Treasury Department funds that seize assets from criminals.

   —Cap the maximum government payment for contract employees at $487,000, indexed to inflation. Agencies could make exceptions for scientists, engineers and other specialists.

   —Give the Treasury Department greater access to prison data to prevent prisoners from claiming improper payments. Saves. $80 million.

   —Approve a U.S.-Mexico agreement on oil and gas exploration in waters outside their exclusive economic zones.

   —Permanently extend a requirement that states receiving mineral lease payments contribute to the federal government's administrative costs. Saves $415 million.

   —Extend Bureau of Customs and Border Protection user fees. Raises $7 billion.

Published in National News
Thursday, 21 November 2013 17:10

Unions plan 'emergency days' to lobby lawmakers

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Legislative leaders discussed a developing plan to deal with Illinois' $100 billion pension crisis as the state's biggest employee unions planned a lobbying push to oppose it.

The "We are One Coalition" represents the state's major public employee unions. It alerted members this week about "emergency call-in days" next week and on Dec. 2-3.

Members are being asked to call lawmakers and urge them to vote against pension bills that don't have union support.

Legislative leaders spoke Thursday about a plan they say could save close to $150 billion over 30 years. Officials reported progress but said more meetings are expected. Lawmakers have been alerted about a possible special session on Dec. 3.

Unions say they weren't consulted about the plan and that they think elements of it are unconstitutional.

Published in Local News
Monday, 04 November 2013 12:21

Missouri budget coming higher than expected

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri budget officials say the state's tax revenues have increased 2.5 percent through the first four months of the current fiscal year.

The state Office of Administration on Monday reported net general revenues through October. The state's current budget took effect July 1 and runs through next June.

For the current budget year so far, state corporate income and franchise taxes are up more than 26 percent. Individual income taxes are up 3.8 percent and sales taxes have increased 4.4 percent.

 

Published in Local News
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