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CHICAGO (AP) - Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says the state's $97 billion pension shortfall isn't as dire as some people are describing.
The Chicago Democrat told WGN Radio that the pension shortfall is not an imminent crisis, but that finding a solution can help keep Illinois' income taxes down.
Cullerton made the remarks as lawmakers head back to Springfield to begin their fall veto session Tuesday. They face considerable pressure to deal with the pension problem, considered the nation's worst. But a bipartisan committee working on reform is split over a plan that saves $138 billion over 30 years.
Cullerton says the state has been putting more money into its pension systems in recent years under a 1996 law. He says he wants to lower the annual amount the state pays in.
FULTON, Mo. (AP) - Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle agree that Missouri's state hospital for the most severely ill and dangerous mental health patients is in dire need of repair, but it remains unclear just how to come up with the more than $200 million needed to replace the crumbling Fulton State Hospital.
The facility is Missouri's only maximum security psychiatric hospital. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that some of the buildings on the 95-acre site are completely abandoned. Others are in such bad shape they raise safety concerns for patients and staff.
Republican state Sen. David Pearce of Warrensburg heads an interim Senate committee reviewing state building repair needs. He says many of the state's more than 6,000 buildings need fixing, but dollars are scarce.
New labors numbers for the St. Louis area show the City lags behind the rest of the county when it comes to employment, however jobs are on the rise. Data released today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows an unemployment rate of 7.4 percent in August 2013, compared to the national unemployment rate of 7.3 percent over the same time period. The good news is that the St. Louis metropolitan area added 11,000 jobs, which is up 0.8 percent over the past year. But that's still behind the national pace, where employment rose 1.7 percent from a year ago.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The head of Missouri's public defender system says furloughs may be necessary if Gov. Jay Nixon does not release additional money for the system by January.
The Jefferson City News Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1h0dUe6 ) that state Public Defender Cat Kelly sent notices last week to judges warning them that the system could face staff shortages. She said a hiring freeze would start Nov. 1 and furloughs could kick in two months later.
Nixon withheld $1.4 million from the public defender system when then budget year started July 1.
A spokeswoman for Nixon's Office of Administration says the public defender system and many other agencies had 4 percent of their budgets restricted - slightly more than the standard 3 percent that's kept in reserve.
Average retail gasoline prices in St. Louis rose nearly 6 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.13 per gallon of regular on Sunday.
This is according to GasBuddy.com's daily survey in St. Louis. The national average has fallen a penny per gallon in the last week to $3.36.
The St. Louis prices yesterday were over 15 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and about ten cents per gallon lower than a month ago.
The national average is nearly 14 cents per gallon lower than last month and 31 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.
WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. (AP) - Authorities in the St. Clair County village of Washington Park say they found the remains of a body in a car trunk after firefighters extinguished a fire in the vehicle.
The Belleville News Democrats reports the body was found Saturday night. Washington Park Assistant Police Chief James Mister says the body was so badly burned that's it's not known whether the person was male or female.
He says a neighbor saw the car fire and called 911.
The body was discovered when a firefighter noticed what appeared to be a bone, forced open the trunk and found the charred remains.
Authorities are asking the public to provide information that might lead to the identification of the body.
CRYSTAL CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two men who were riding in a gyrocopter are alive after the copter plunged about 20 feet to the ground south of St. Louis.
The accident happened Sunday afternoon at the Festus Airport in Jefferson County, Mo. Names and conditions of the men have not been released.
Authorities say the gyrocopter crashed in a grassy area near the runway. Emergency workers arrived to find one of the men still in the aircraft. He was taken to a hospital.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.
The copter is an experimental aircraft that looks like a small helicopter.
A house fire in Mehlville overnight has claimed the life of a young boy.
Firefighters rushed to a home on the 700 block of Hinder Drive at around 12:15 a.m. and found the boy in his bedroom. He later died at St. Anthony's Hospital. The victim is identified as 7 year old Brian Davis. His grandmother suffered a foot injury after jumping from a second-story window. His 13 year old sister was able to escape through the front door.
The 13-year-old and the grandmother were taken to the hospital, where they were treated and released.
The St. Louis County Bomb and Arson Unit is investigating the cause of the fire.
Assistance applying to college will be available to some Missouri high school students this week. The Missouri Department of Higher Education says, for the first time, the state is participating in what's known as "College Application Week." Similar events are held each fall in 24 other states.
Members of the Missouri College Advising Corps will be available to help students at 26 high schools in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas and parts of rural Missouri.
The goal is to increase the number of college applications coming from students in low-income families and from those who would be the first in their families to attend college.
The advisers are recent University of Missouri graduates. The university received a $1 million grant in 2007 to launch the adviser corps.
A St. Charles Urgent Care center is closed today after a minivan crashed through the front of the building Sunday, killing the driver.
It happened just before 1:00 p.m. in the 2800 block of Veteran's Memorial Parkway.
Police say a driver may have had a heart attack before his Dodge Caravan rolled into the path of an oncoming pickup truck.
The 88 year old minivan driver was killed. His 81 year old wife is hospitalized in serious condition. The pickup driver was treated at the scene.
No one inside the clinic was hurt. But the building suffered structural damage and will be closed for at least the next several days.