Statehouse News: Oct. 26 to 30

The following headlines are compiled each week by Sarah D. Wire, a senior at the Missouri School of Journalism. The weekly newsletter — drawn from stories by student-reporters with Missouri Digital News — is dispatched to members of the Missouri Press Association.

Governor announces deeper budget cuts — Gov. Jay Nixon announced $204 million in spending cuts to Missouri’s budget Wednesday. Almost 700 full- and part-time jobs were eliminated in cuts that will affect departments across the board. House Budget Chair Allen Icet, R-St. Louis County, and Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said they expect Nixon will have to cut even more than the $634 million in withholdings and vetoes he has already made.

Medicaid affected most by Nixon’s withholdings — Medicaid and other health care expenditures topped Gov. Jay Nixon’s list of budget cuts. Under Nixon’s plan, Medicaid programs face a loss of more than $32 million; mental health programs will lose $3 million and hospitals and clinics around the state, including those in the UM Health Care System, will lose $3 million.

Missouri has only 28 percent of requested H1N1 vaccines — Missouri has only received 220,000 of the 750,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine it has requested. The bulk of the vaccine received by the state has gone to areas with the most high risk people such as St. Louis and Kansas City. Pregnant women and children have the highest risk of infection so they are given priority. Health Department spokesman Kit Wagar said the delay comes from slower than expected production of the vaccine.

Missouri prison population on the rise, state says it can handle the increase — The number of inmates in Missouri’s jails is at an all-time high, but state corrections officials say the state has more than enough room. The high — of 30,720 — does not worry the Department of Corrections; officials say they can hold at least 500 more prisoners. The department has no firm explanation for why the prison population is so high right now, but Corrections Department spokeswoman Jacqueline Lapine said an increase in crime and more stringent sentencing could be a factor.

Republicans react to governor’s economic development director choice — Gov. Jay Nixon’s appointment of David Kerr as the state’s new economic development director brought mixed reactions from state Republican leaders Tuesday. Kerr previously served as Kansas’ Commerce Secretary. Before that he was president of AT&T Kansas for four years.

Energy industry, legislators discuss effect of cap-and-trade legislation on Missouri — Proposed cap-and-trade legislation could provide a “huge risk” to Missourians, said Warren Wood, president of the Missouri Energy Development Association. The Joint Committee on Missouri’s Energy Future held a hearing Oct. 26, consisting mostly of testimony from energy industry officials. All of the witnesses said they were worried that the Waxman-Markey bill, also known as cap-and-trade, would increase unemployment and consumer energy rates in Missouri.

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