Kansas City, MO – Early last evening, rush hour drivers along Bruce Watkins Freeway had to head to shoulders of the road to make way for what appeared to be two armored cars. The heavy trucks had police cars leading and following, with flashing lights and sirens.
The fast moving vehicles were heading for Kansas City's far southeast side and beginnings of an Operation 100, so-called because it takes about that many officers to work and support the siege of a crime scene.
Lawrence, KS – Kansas is one of the windiest states, and state government and power company officials are trying to capitalize on that. Officials met in Lawrence to talk about ways to make that happen.
Kansas City, MO – Jackson County voters approved the renewal of the Community-Backed Anti-Drug Tax by a wide margin yesterday. The COMBAT sales tax raises about $20 million a year to fund drug enforcement and treatment programs.
Kansas City, MO – It's been 20 years since Jackson County residents first passed the Community Based Anti-Drug Tax to fund drug enforcement, treatment and prevention. The sales tax was an unusual response to the crack epidemic and high homicide rate of the late 1980s. Since that time, drug use and violent crime have decreased and come back up again, leaving some voters wondering if Combat has made a difference. The quarter-cent sales tax is up for a renewal in a special election on Tuesday.
Kansas City, MO – Kansas' governor Mark Parkinson said Wednesday that he's prepared to make additional spending cuts this year to keep the state's budget balanced, and key legislators predicted he'll be forced to further trim aid to public schools.
Parkinson wouldn't speculate during a news conference about what steps he'll take to close any projected deficit for the fiscal year that began July 1. But he said he won't leave the job of closing a shortfall to legislators when they reconvene in January.
Kansas City, Mo – Kansas City's Finance and Audit Committee got a wake up call yesterday, in the form of the latest revenue and expense figures. For one thing, revenue may be starting to lag behind projections by several million dollars. But there was more.
Kansas City, MO – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced an additional $204 million dollars in spending cuts on Wednesday due to declining state revenue. The cuts in the fiscal 2010 state budget include $4.4 million from the Missouri Arts Council and $2.2 million from its cultural partners, including public broadcasting.
Kansas City, MO – This November voters have to weigh in on what's most important: a weak economy where more people are less likely to approve new taxes versus a law enforcement program that requires tax dollars to operate. COMBAT-Community Backed Anti-Drug-Tax is the tax on the ballot looking to fund programs that address drug addiction and drug-related crime in the community.
Kansas City, MO – A recently-released study says Missouri's Public Defender system is "heading for disaster."
The study finds Missouri is last in per capita expenditure compared to other state public defender systems. Researchers also say Missouri's public defenders often have twice as many cases as the maximum recommended caseload.
Robert Spangenberg heads up the group that did the study. He says the state's system has been seeking relief for years.
Kansas City, MO – Clay County officials kicked off a drive for "Proposition A", which would renew a 1/8-cent sales tax that pays for much of its jail operations.
Council members from Northland Districts and Clay County Sheriff Bob Boydston told reporters that the 1998 sales tax pays for about a third of the cost of operating the county detention center, Sheriff Boydston says ending the tax won't save any money because by state law the prisoners would still have to be housed - for a fee - at some other jail.
Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Public Service Commission wants to take over enforcement of the state's laws designed to protect underground utility lines.
Currently, the State Attorney General's office has the authority to go after people or companies that damage underground power or natural gas lines. The PSC's Natelle Dietrich says it makes sense for the commission to have that authority.
Jefferson City, MO – Two ballot initiatives sponsored by opponents of abortion and human cloning have been approved for signature circulation in Missouri.
The first ballot question would bar state tax dollars from being used to fund abortions or to fund the procedure known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, which is considered to be human cloning by the sponsoring group Missouri Roundtable for Life. GOP Congressional candidate Ed Martin heads the group:
Kansas City, MO – Missouri officials are getting ready for the 2010 U.S. Census. And one of their main concerns is that some residents are afraid or apathetic when it comes to filling out census forms.
The state Office of Administration will chair the public awareness campaign aimed at encouraging Missourians to take part in the census. O.A. Commissioner Kelvin Simmons says no one should be afraid to fill out a census form:
Jefferson City, MO – More than 100 jobs are being cut from the Missouri Division of State Parks, due to the ongoing decline in tax revenues.
The job cuts will range from administrative positions in Jefferson City to jobs at various state parks, according to Travis Ford with the Department of Natural Resources:
Travis Ford: "There are a lot of details that still have to be worked out on exactly who is affected, how many vacant positions are being eliminated, versus positions that are occupied by full-time and part-time employees."
Kansas City, MO – After nearly two years of debate Kansas City, Missouri has changed its rules for establishments that serve liquor by the drink. And one places things could change is on the city's college campuses.
One purpose of the new liquor ordinance is to bring Kansas City into line with a Missouri law that allows colleges and universities to choose to apply for a license to serve alcohol at sports events, plays, concerts and the like.
Kansas City, MO – Activist Clay Chastain is back in town to kick off petition drives for two ballot measures.
Chastain and his supporters will be circulating petitions for his latest transit plan - and for a revision to the city charter that would take away the city council's power to veto it if it passes. Such was the fate of a Chastain plan voters approved in 2006.
His latest one features a 3/8-cent sales tax to help finance a 35-mile light rail spine, a Union Station hub and redone Penn Valley Park with a Ferris wheel.
Kansas City, MO – After taking last week off, the Kansas City, Missouri City Council went back to work on the budget yesterday and got some relatively good news from the city budget director. Between belt tightening and some revenue windfalls, Kansas City is operating in the black -- at least so far.
Sharp pencil wielder Troy Schulte came out of the budget basement, surveyed the damage of the economic storm and proclaimed it a relatively good day.
Kansas City, MO – Kansas may be about to botch efforts to lure a corporate office complex and major league soccer stadium to Kansas City, according to some legislators who are pressuring Gov. Mark Parkinson's administration to close a deal.
Medical software maker Cerner Corp. and the owners of the Kansas City Wizards are proposing a $414 million development near NASCAR's Kansas Speedway. The project includes an office complex for 4,500 Cerner employees, an 18,500-seat stadium for the Wizards and two dozen soccer fields for amateur teams.
Topeka, KS – The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, or KPERS, is facing a multi-billion dollar shortfall in coming years. Yesterday , the Kansas House Appropriations Committee heard about changes that some economists believe could save the state money.
A University of Kansas economist told legislators they could quickly start a new 401(k)-style pension plan for teachers and government workers.
Independence, Missouri – A new metro wide commuter rail plan is unveiled by Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders. The price tag is slightly more than a billion dollars.
Sanders calls his concept the most cost effective transit plan in the country. As he envisions it, the system would use existing rail corridors to save money and would cost about $7 million a mile to build.
Jefferson City, MO – The state of Missouri has borrowed $150 million from its budget reserve fund, as state revenue collections continue to decline.
The latest dip into the fund brings the total borrowed this fiscal year to $350 million. State Budget Director Linda Luebbering says the $150 million borrowed this week will cover several current expenses.
Kansas City, MO – Recent budget cutbacks mean that there are now fewer state dollars for highways. That's got the Kansas Department of Transportation looking at new ways to select the road projects it takes on. In the past, the state has only examined traffic volume and road conditions, but K-DOT spokesman Steve Swartz says local input and a project's economic impact could play a bigger role in the future.