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.