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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are seeking to allow new charges on cellphones and wireless devices to help improve the state's 911 system.

Public safety officials say many counties cannot identify the location of someone who uses a cellphone to call 911.

Legislation advancing this year would establish a 3-percent charge on prepaid wireless devices. Proceeds would go for the poison control center and for counties to improve 911.

The proposals also would give counties a new 911 funding option by permitting a monthly fee on devices that can contact 911. The fee would be capped at $1.50 and require voter approval. Counties currently can assess a fee on landline phones or a sales tax. Counties would not be permitted to combine funding options.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The budget cuts legislators imposed last year on the Missouri Department of Revenue likely will remain in place, even though the drivers' license controversy that sparked them has been resolved through a new law.

Lawmakers reduced the department's licensing division by $700,000 for the current budget year in an attempt to block the agency from scanning driving applicants' personal documents into a state computer.

But Governor Jay Nixon isn't asking lawmakers to restore the funding for the remainder of this budget year, nor is he asking for the funding to be placed in the state budget that begins in July.

At the time, lawmakers said funding would be restored if the agency stopped scanning the documents, which it did after Nixon signed legislation last year prohibiting the procedure.

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri's four-year public universities would be rewarded for good performance under legislation passed by the state Senate.
 
Under the bill, the 13 universities would get funding increases tied to certain performance standards.
 
The colleges would work with the Department of Higher Education to develop five goals. Three of those goals must be tied to graduation and retention rates as well as job placement in a field appropriate for a graduating student's degree level.
 
The legislation would apply only in years the state can afford to increase higher education funding and would expire in 2016.
 
A 2012 state law requires the development of a funding formula for Missouri's public universities.
 
Senators voted 33-0 to send the measure to the House on Thursday.
Published in Local News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A newly released report says a funding gap exists between the transportation system that Missourians demand and the one the state can provide with current funds.

Missouri Department of Transportation officials outlined more than $70 billion of wants, needs and projects Thursday in unveiling a draft of the agency's latest 20-year plan.

But MoDot said that the amount is significantly greater than the estimated $17.3 billion of funding available over the next 20 years. One of the most expensive proposed projects - improving Interstate 70 between Kansas City and St. Louis - would cost from $2 billion to $4 billion.

MoDot talked to Missourians statewide about what they wanted in developing the draft.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says he is working toward full funding for public schools by the time he leaves office in January 2017.

This year's budget includes has about $3 billion for elementary and secondary schools. But that's roughly $600 million less than what is called for under Missouri's school funding formula for this year.

The amounts prescribed by the formula change yearly. If schools receive all of the funds in this year's budget, Missouri would have to spend an additional $560 million to meet next year's target.

Nixon addressed the issue in a speech Monday to higher education officials. He won a second term as governor last year and is barred by law from seeking a third term.

 

Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has suspended funding for the next phase of a pricey renovation project at the state Capitol that's caused embarrassment for financially-shaky Illinois and raised questions about how it was allowed.

The Chicago Democrat told reporters Tuesday that he's instructed his budget director to hold up any further appropriations for the project.

The restoration of the National Historic Landmark has already drawn criticism from officeholders and candidates, along with lots of finger-pointing. Sparking the outrage has been copper-plated wooden doors with a nearly $670,000 price tag and more than $323,000 for four chandeliers.

Quinn blamed Capitol architect J. Richard Alsop III and says he needs to be "reigned in" by the legislative commission he reports to.

It's a nearly $50 million taxpayer funded renovation.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate panel had endorsed a new funding source for a program that serves developmentally disabled children.

A Senate health committee amended a bill Monday to create a $55 million state fund from general revenues to be used for services to the disabled and low-income seniors.

The bill is intended to ensure there is no drop in funding for the First Steps program for disabled preschoolers, nor for several other initiatives.

Last week, the Legislature voted to fund First Steps and those other initiatives with revenues from the repeal of a tax break for low-income seniors and disabled people who live in rental housing. But Gov. Jay Nixon has said he is likely to veto that tax-credit repeal if it is not part of a broad-based tax credit overhaul.

 

Published in Local News

A St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame could be on its way to downtown.

Greg Marecek, who heads the hall of fame, is looking to move the display from Scottrade Center to a freestanding three-level museum at Union Station. The Post-Dispatch reports the building would cost $25 million and Marecek hopes to raise a third of that money this year.

Union Station is a more appealing site because owner, Lodging Hospitality Management, plans to spend $25 million to upgrade the facility.

If funding is secured, construction on the Hall of Fame would take about a year.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate has passed additional funding for Capitol repairs, design plans for a new facility at the state mental hospital and for the state parks system.

The measure was approved by a 29-4 vote on Wednesday. It would allow the state to spend $50 million on new Capitol windows and structural repairs, $38 million on a new state office building, $20 million for parks and $13 million to fund design plans at Fulton State Hospital.

Lawmakers moved forward with the additional funding last week after Gov. Jay Nixon's administration released an April financial report showing state revenue had increased by more than 11 percent from last year.

The spending plan now heads back to the House.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Amid the risk of losing millions of dollars in federal transportation funding, Missouri lawmakers are considering changes to rules for commercial driver's licenses.

State House members this week gave initial approval to legislation that seeks to comply with federal regulations dealing with learning permits for commercial driver's licenses and with restrictions on texting and using hand-held cellphones while driving a commercial vehicle.

The Missouri Transportation Department says the state could lose $30 million for one year and $60 million annually after that if it doesn't act quickly enough.

The legislation needs another round of approval in the House before it can move to the Senate. Lawmakers have until their mandatory adjournment on May 17 to approve new legislation.

Published in Local News
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