The number of uninsured people in Missouri has jumped by 80,000 in one year. The Census Bureau says Missouri had 646,000 people without health insurance last year, up from 565,000 in 2001. The bureau reports most of the increase is because of the loss of employer-provided insurance. Missouri’s uninsured rate is almost 11%. Enrollment in Medicaid, which might be a partial reflection of loss of insurance elsewhere, has gone up 6% in the last fiscal year in Missouri.
Archives for September 2003
Investigators are trying to figure out why a ski boat crashed into the Mel Price Locks and Dam on the Mississippi River killing four people from Jefferson County. Three of those killed are from Festus. One is from DeSoto. All were found in the forward cabin of the boat. Two other people were seriously hurt. The boat hit the top of a steel gate that separates the piers of the dam. One observer says the boat’s operator might have thought it was going under a bridge as it approached it in the dark.
The Hazelwood Ford Plant will stay open, but half of the people working there today won’t be working there next year. Ford says it’s going to eliminate one of the two shifts at the plant. Ford says demand is down for the SUVs it builds at Hazelwood. Ford does say it will invest $100 million to upgrade the plant. The decision comes after Governor Holden unveiled a $9 million incentive package to keep the Hazelwood factory opened at least through 2007. Ford had planned to close it. Successful negotiations between the United Auto Workers and Ford led to the breakthrough to keep Hazelwood open. Holden said the state’s incentive package, $5 million in job training assistance and $4 million of other tax credits, was negotiated over a two day period in St. Louis after the labor talks were concluded. The city of Hazelwood and St. Louis County will also provide tax abatements to help finance upgrades at the plant. Approximately 2,600 people are currently employed at the Hazelwood factory. Holden made the announcement during a news conference in Hazelwood. He was joined by Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder and House Speaker Catherine Hanaway. Holden also announced that he would soon appoint a Missouri Automotive Partnership with the goal of retaining the five assembly plants, dozens of auto suppliers and thousands of autoworkers in Missouri.
A state budget analyst says Missouri’s government is headed for a financial train wreck in the next fiscal year. Former State Budget Director Jim Moody, now a lobbyist at the State Capitol, analyzes state spending for several organizations and is often called on by the legislature for insight. He has told a joint legislative committee studying state tax policy that state government has a severe structural budget problem and the train wreck he sees developing a year from now cannot be avoided even by a strong economic turnaround. Moody said the state is paying the piper for cutting taxes and increasing services during the 90s. And Moody warned state lawmakers not to look to Washington for help. In fact, he said the state fiscal problems will only get worse if Congress passes new federal tax law changes.
Missouri’s senior senator says there’s an urgent need to win the peace in Iraq. As Republicans and Democrats in Washington DC debate more money for the war in Iraq, Senator Bond chides some Democrats for not backing the $87 billion supplemental appropriation for the war by using the words of President Clinton, who in 1998, said Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction must be stopped and stopped now. Opponents say the Bush Administration does not have an adequate game plan for how the money would be used. But Bond counters it was a lack of doing anything to the terrorists all through the 1990s that put America in the position it is in today. Bond says great strides to win the war on terror were made in Afghanistan and Iraq, but now a new direction to win the peace needs to be taken. Bond says while terrorists in Iraq are shooting at US military members there, they are taking aim at US opinion, hoping Americans will weaken and cut and run. He says if we do that, they win.
Public Service Commission Chairman Kelvin Simmons, widely rumoured to be considering a run at statewide office, has decided against running in 2004. With State Treasurer Nancy Farmer running for US Senate against Christopher Bond, Democrats had hoped to persuade Simmons, a black Democrat from Kansas City, to run for that vacant office. In an interview with the Missourinet, Simmons acknowledged he has fielded a number of telephone calls from party officials the past few months. He said it was flattering, but ultimately he had to decide what was the best decision for him. Simmons noted that if he chose to run he would have to step down from the PSC, get a new job and put together what he calls a winning team. He said it just isn’t his time. Simmons has decided to step down as PSC chairman, but to remain on the commission as a member. He came to the commission in 2000 after serving on the Kansas City Council. He was appointed PSC chairman about a year later. Simmons keeps his options open concerning a political future. He said opportunities are blessings and if one comes he would consider it. The decision does leave Democrats scrambling to get a quality candidate to keep the statewide office.
Kurt Warner isn’t the Rams starting quarterback. This fact sits well with Rams fans as long as their winning and Marc Bulger’s producing. However it isn’t sitting well with Warner’s wife. Brenda Warner, speaking with WMLL radio in St. Louis, said, “If he’s not going to play here, then he wants to play somewhere.” Kurt Warner admits it’s tough, but it doesn’t lessen his commitment to the team, saying, “I’ve accepted that role and I’m going to do what I can and if I’m called upon at any point in time I’m going to be ready.” This isn’t the first time Brenda Warner has questioned the Rams publicly. Last December she called KFNS radio to complain about the Rams not suggesting an X-Ray on what proved to be a broken wrist. In other Rams news, head coach Mike Martz said free safety Jason Sehorn is coming along and should suit up for the Falcons game in 13 days. He broke his foot in training camp.
The Missouri Tigers are back on TV again. TBS has decided to pick up Mizzou’s October 11th match up with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The game will kickoff at 6 PM. This will mark the third time in six games that the Tigers have been televised. ABC carried Mizzou’s season opening win against Illinois and FOX Sports Net picked up Saturday’s loss to Kansas. The Tigers season-finale against Iowa State in Columbia will be on ABC on November 29. That game was originally scheduled for November 1, but was moved back so it could be televised. Missouri will have plenty of time to get ready for it’s game with Nebraska because they don’t have a game this week. Missouri’s 4-1 and Nebraska, who faces Troy St. at home on Saturday, is 4-0.
There could be some good news in store for Barry Hinson and the Southwest Missouri St. basketball team today. Drew Richards of Rogersville is expected to announce his intention to attend SMS, according to the Springfield News-Leader. Richards is 6-9 and averaged 19 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots as a freshman. Richards has stated that he cut his list down to SMS, Texas Tech and Arkansas. Getting homegrown talent seems to be a trend for Hinson, whose 2003 recruiting class includes six players from Missouri; four of them are from southwest Missouri. Even if Richards says yes to the Bears today, nothing is set in stone. The early signing period doesn’t begin until November.
Tony La Russa isn’t going anywhere according to an article in Tuesday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch. La Russa told the paper that the Cardinals want him back for the final year of his contract and that he wants to come back. There have been rumors that suggest La Russa might be interested in returning to the White Sox, now that Jerry Manuel’s been fired. La Russa managed the White Sox from 1979 to 1986, leading them to the American League West title in 1983. He’ll be entering his season in St. Louis in 2004.