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Thursday, 20 February 2014 03:32

Personnel cuts coming to Ft. Leonard Wood

   Military personnel cuts will take a big bite out of Fort Leonard Wood.  The largest base in Missouri is expected to lose one-thousand soldiers by October 2015 as part of budget cutting across the U.S. military.
   Fort Leonard Wood CO, Army Major General Leslie Smith outlined the cuts Wednesday at a town hall meeting on the base. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that about seven-thousand people in uniform work at the base, known mainly for training new recruits, military police and engineers.  The paper reports the cuts will come from Forces Command, a less visible group that deploys soldiers overseas.  
   Personnel cuts are also expected to affect Scott Air Force Base, but the extent of those cuts isn't yet known.
Published in Local News
   WASHINGTON (AP) — It was once the backbone of the House Republican majority — the hard-line stand that brought President Barack Obama to the negotiating table and yielded more than $2 trillion in deficit reduction.
   On Tuesday, it abruptly vanished, the victim of Republican disunity and a president determined not to bargain again.
   During the summer budget negotiations in 2011, House Speaker John Boehner had insisted that any increase in the nation's borrowing limit be matched dollar for dollar with spending cuts. It became the "Boehner Rule," a mantra of fiscal discipline. And while it didn't always live up to its tit-for-tat formula, it helped drive budget talks and kept deficit reduction at the fore of the Republican agenda.
   But there are limits to Republican power, and on Tuesday inevitability finally caught up to the speaker.
   Boehner let Congress vote on a measure to extend the nation's borrowing authority for 13 months without any spending conditions — a "clean bill" that was an unequivocal victory for Obama. It passed 221-201, with only 28 Republican votes. The Senate still has to approve the extension, but that's considered a mere formality in the Democratic-controlled chamber.
   Boehner's retreat hardly came as a surprise.
   Conservative lawmakers had failed to back a couple of proposed attachments aimed at Obama and his fellow Democrats. One would have approved the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the other would have repealed a provision of the health care law. Either of those faced unified Democratic opposition, so Boehner would have needed 218 Republican votes to pass it in the House. But conservatives were either determined to vote against the debt ceiling increase, no matter what, or found the provisions too small a price for their vote.
   "When you don't have 218 votes, you have nothing," Boehner said.
   Starting last year, Obama has steadfastly refused to negotiate over giving the Treasury Department the authority to borrow the money it needs to pay bills like Social Security benefits, payments on government debt and checks for federal workers.
   For Boehner, however, not all was lost. He placed the burden of extending Treasury's borrowing authority — not a politically popular vote — on the Democrats, and most members of his party got to vote no.
   What's more, the decision helped remove a potentially damaging diversion. Republican allies in the business community have long pleaded with Republicans not to play brinkmanship with the nation's credit. Last year's threat of default, followed by a partial government shutdown over stalled budget talks, harmed Republicans in the eyes of the public.
   Instead, Boehner and his leadership team have decided to keep the political focus on Obama's health care law, which they have targeted as the Achilles' heel for Democrats in this election year.
   It was the second time in two weeks that Boehner swept away an issue that threatened to overshadow the GOP attention on health care. He had outlined principles on how to achieve an overhaul of immigration law. But faced with a conservative outcry, Boehner last week deep-sixed the issue, declaring that immigration legislation this year was a long shot.
   "Boehner's thinking here is we have to pick the smarter fight," said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist and former senior congressional leadership aide. "The smarter fight is Obamacare. If we get dragged into a protracted fight over the debt limit, like the one we saw over the government shutdown, it provides a distraction over the bigger issues the party can litigate."
   Conservative, tea party-aligned groups immediately objected to Boehner's decision, calling it a capitulation and demanding that Republicans vote against the debt ceiling increase.
   "When we heard that House leadership was scheduling a clean debt ceiling increase, we thought it was a joke," Andy Roth of the conservative Club for Growth wrote in an email to congressional offices. "Something is very wrong with House leadership, or with the Republican Party."
   But among lawmakers, the reaction was muted. When Boehner announced his decision in a private meeting with Republicans, one participant described the reaction as resigned silence. And during scheduled debate on the House floor, Rep. Dave Camp, the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, was the only Republican to speak, reluctantly giving his support for allowing Treasury to borrow more money.
   "While I believe that we must increase our debt limit, I'm clearly not satisfied that there are no provisions that would help us address the long-term drivers of this debt," he said, before becoming one of the 28 Republicans who voted for the measure.
   This all could change if Republicans win control of the Senate in November. Republicans would then control Congress and Obama might have little recourse but to accept some Republican demands.
   A Republican victory in the fall, Madden said, would mean "the most recent electoral mandate would be favorable to the Republican bargaining position."
   Boehner, for one, was not giving up. Asked if the "Boehner Rule" was dead, he said, "I hope not."
Published in National News

   Parents in the Normandy School District plan to hold a town hall meeting Monday to discuss the financial and academic problems in the struggling district.  

   Last week the school board voted to cut more than 100 jobs, including 70 teachers and close Bel Nor Elementary School in an effort to keep from going bankrupt over of the costs of the state-mandated transfer program. The unaccredited district must pay for more than 1,000 students to attend schools in other districts.  

   But the School board voted last week not to pay the tuition and transportation bills associated with those transfers. 

   The Normandy Schools Town Hall Organization will host a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Natural Bridge Branch of the St. Louis County Library.

Published in Local News
Thursday, 24 October 2013 04:43

Normandy to cut more than 100 teachers

   Normandy Schools Superintendent Ty McNichols will outline proposed budget cuts at Thursday night's school board meeting.  But Wednesday, district officials briefed employees about the plan as the struggling district tries to cover transfer costs for hundreds of students.  

   Teachers learned yesterday that 103 of the district's 650 employees will lose their jobs by the end of December.  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that layoff notices will go out next month.  

   District officials say class sizes could go as high as 29 students and Bel-Nor Elementary School is expected to close.

   The district is projecting a $6.8 million shortfall this school year because of the added cost of the state mandated school transfer program.

Published in Local News

   WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed a measure into law reopening the federal government and averting a potential default.

   The White House says Obama signed the bill early Thursday, hours after the House gave final approval.

   The White House budget office has already instructed federal workers to plan to return to work Thursday morning.

   The measure restores funding for the government through Jan. 15 and extends the nation's borrowing authority through Feb. 7.

   The partial government shutdown started Oct. 1. The U.S. was to reach its debt limit Thursday if no deal was reached.

   As the deal neared final passage in the House Wednesday, Obama said it was now time for leaders in Washington to win back the trust of Americans that was lost during the debt-and-spending crisis.

Published in National News

   Normandy school officials are eyeing cuts to cover the $15 million in tuition costs for 1,600 students who transferred out of the unaccredited district.  Superintendent Ty McNichols says he's begun identifying teachers and programs that will fall to the budget ax.  

   McNichols told a group of about 40 people gathered a a policy breakfast at the Show-Me Institute Tuesday that he's also working to bolster academics, attendance and the graduation rate in the failing district.  But he says he doesn't expect to make big advances before the next transfer application deadline rolls around in February.  

   Normandy has just two months to pay the first of the tuition bills which arrived last week, or the Missouri education department will withhold funding.

Published in Local News
Friday, 06 September 2013 04:10

ESL firefighter layoffs coming

   Seventeen East St. Louis firefighters will lose their jobs at the end of the month.  The Belleville News-Democrat reports that City Manager Deletra Hudson sent a letter to the firefighters saying the city  "has been forced to make some difficult financial decisions to meet its budgetary obligations."  

   The firefighters had been hired with federal grant money.  When the grant ran out in March, East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks said the city found some extra money to keep the firefighters on the job until the end of September.  

   Parks told the paper that he expects eight of the laid off firefighters to be called back when the new city budget kicks in January 1st.

   East St. Louis currently employs 54 firefighters.

Published in Local News

   WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. (AP) - The mayor the village of Washington Park, Illinois says city leaders are talking about disbanding the police department.

   The Belleville News-Democrat reports Thursday that Washington Park Mayor Ann Rodgers says the village's financial situation is bleak. She says a number of options are being considered but nothing has been finalized. The village's police chief, Aubrey Keller, has previously suggested the department be abolished.

   Keller says the department has a staff shortage and is paying overtime costs.

   St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly also agrees that abolishing the department is an option.

   Washington Park has a $7 million deficit and Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka has called for the state attorney general to investigate the village's finances.

 
Published in Local News

   MASCOUTAH, Ill. (AP) - Air Force streamlining efforts mean nearly three dozen civilian jobs have been cut at Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County.

   The Belleville News-Democrat reports the 33 jobs at Scott's Air Force Network Integration Center were eliminated when a contract with the workers' employer ended at the end of last month.

   But Col. Brenda Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Space Command at Colorado's Peterson Air Force Base, says the lost Illinois jobs will translate to nine new in-house positions at Peterson.

   Campbell says the Air Force will save money long-term through the consolidation.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is warning of employee layoffs and cuts to services if legislators pass a budget that reduces funding for the states' motor vehicle division.

Nixon said Wednesday that lawmakers were acting irresponsibly to put forward a budget that would fund the division for only the first two-thirds of the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Republican lawmakers said Tuesday that the partial funding was intended as an incentive for Nixon's administration to stop making electronic copies of personal documents of people applying for driver's licenses. They said lawmakers could provide the rest of the money when they return to the Capitol next January.

But Nixon called the partial-year funding unprecedented. The Democratic governor said he would treat it as an annual appropriation and cut accordingly.

 

Published in Local News
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