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Missouri losing too many state employees over wages, governor says



Missouri losing too many state employees over wages, governor says

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — State employees in Missouri could see a pay raise as soon as February if lawmakers approve the increase next month.

Missouri employs 50,0000 workers who are among the lowest-paid state workers in the nation. Currently, the Show-Me State has a historic amount of money, and the governor wants it to boost state workers’ pay to at least $15 an hour.

“When all of a sudden we become a training ground for an employee that’s been there five or ten years, and we’re losing employees, we need to reevaluate what we’ve done and what we can do,” Parson said Tuesday.

When lawmakers return for session next month, Parson is asking them to pass a 5.5% Cost of Living Adjustment and $15 an hour minimum wage for state employees.

“We’re paying some of these people $26,000 and $27,000 a year, and they are making decisions about does a kid stay in somebody’s home, do they not stay in a home — major decisions,” Parson said. “I don’t think it’s a major increase for a lot of people. It’s a modest increase to state employees that have been here a long time. I think it’s long overdue.”

Over the summer, the governor vetoed $2.1 million that was supposed to go to increasing the salaries of workers in the Children’s Division under the Missouri Department of Social Services. In his veto letter, Parson said lawmakers should not single out one specific agency for a pay raise.

“The reason we did $15 an hour, that’s kind of competing with baseline employees all over the state,” Parson said. “Whether it’s convenience stores, whether it’s fast food you name it on those entry levels, about everybody’s at that $15 level.”

The minimum wage for private employers in Missouri in 2021 is $10.21. By next year, it will be $11.15, increasing 85 cents each year through 2023. When asked about increasing that wage, Parson said the economy is already taking care of it.

“I’m not a big fan of the minimum wage requirements, but I think what you’re seeing just supply and demand are taking care of itself,” Parson said. “I think wherever you go right now; you’re going to find people are out there really searching for good-paying jobs.”

Rep. Peter Merideth is the ranking minority leader on the House Budget Committee. He said Tuesday Democrats support the pay raise.

“We are at a crisis point honestly with so many of these departments where we cannot fill the jobs and they’re about to have to freeze services completely,” Merideth said “We can’t keep people here, we can’t fire people, they go over to Walmart or fast-food restaurants and make more and these are difficult jobs.”

Merideth said this has been a problem for the state long before COVID, but the pandemic amplified the problem.

“We might have been able to get in front of some of this instead of acting from behind and fix a problem that may be beyond fixing right now,” Merideth said. “We have wait times that are out of control for just about any service whether it’s DOR [Department of Revenue] or social services. People are sitting on phones for hours just waiting for someone to respond.”

At the end of the fiscal year 2021 in June, Missouri recorded more than $2.4 billion in cash. Compared to last November, sales tax revenues were up 22% last month, according to the Office of Administration.

According to Missouri’s Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the Department of Corrections’ website, there are nearly 300 job openings combined.

A spokesperson for the state’s corrections department said in a statement Tuesday:

This new recommendation, if approved, would mean a Correctional Officer I starting salary increase of more than 30% since 2017. Earlier this year, Governor Parson recommended and the Missouri General Assembly approved pay increases for certain classes of corrections employees — food service workers, corrections officers, sergeants, and lieutenants — ranging from 5.8% to 15%; these increases went into effect July 1, 2021, and sparked an improvement in recruitment and retention. We’re optimistic that an additional raise will keep us moving in the right direction.

Both the cost-of-living increase and the $15-per-hour base salary are real game-changers. We’ve heard from clerical and office support staff who say this announcement affirms their commitment to the department and cements their decision to build their careers here. We also have heard from staff who say they might be able to stop working second or third jobs and spend time with their families. The pay increase not only boosts our ability to recruit and retain staff, thus making our facilities and our communities safer, but also improves the quality of life for Missourians doing difficult jobs on the front lines.

MoDOT is warning drivers to be patient this winter because the department is short employees to clear roads. Director of MoDOT Patrick McKenna said in an interview last month, the department needs 200 to 300 seasonal workers for the winter months, but they are nowhere near that.

“The directors are coming to them begging, saying we have to do this,” Merideth said “Here we are as a state spending money, training workers just to have them then leave a month later to go get more money in the private sector. We’re shooting ourselves in the foot.”

In addition to the governor’s proposal, state workers will receive a 2% pay increase in January. If lawmakers pass Parson’s recommendation by the end of next month, employees could see the increase as soon as February.

Parson’s office said the pay raise is expected to cost the state $91 million next year and more than $215 million in 2023.

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Patriots react to season-ending Wild Card blowout at Buffalo: ‘Embarrassing’



Patriots react to season-ending Wild Card blowout at Buffalo: ‘Embarrassing’

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — In a small, windowless room neighboring the visitors locker room at Highmark Stadium, with temperatures outside drawing close to zero degrees, the Patriots were forced to confront the cold reality of their season-ending loss.

It had been record-setting in all the wrong ways.

Downed 47-17 by the Bills in the Wild Card round, the Patriots suffered their worst playoff loss of the Bill Belichick era, the third-worst in franchise history. They allowed the most points of any game in the Belichick era, and fourth-most in team history. And the Bills became the first NFL team ever to not record a punt, turnover or field goal attempt in a game.

So what did the Patriots make of their stunning defeat, their fourth loss in five weeks?

Bill Belichick

“Congratulate Buffalo on the win tonight. Obviously, they did a great job and we just couldn’t keep up with them tonight. Certainly deserve the win. Well-coached, executed well, and we just couldn’t do much of anything.”

S Devin McCourty 

“It is what it is. Obviously not our best game. Sucks to end the season that way. Credit to them, obviously. I don’t think we got a stop on defense tonight. So just not how you want to end the season, how you want to play the game.”

McCourty on the defensive performance:

“We practiced all week, we shouldn’t really perform like that. So, (it’s) embarrassing.”

QB Mac Jones

“I think obviously we didn’t play how we wanted to play, and every game’s different. We didn’t have a chance to win the game, and it starts with me. Just getting momentum early, and not putting ourselves in that position. OF course it’s not how we wanted it to be. Like I said, I could’ve played better, and a lot of guys would agree with me that we can push each other harder to get that product on the field. And I think there will be a lot of strides tis offseason to get there, working together however we can, and that’s gonna show up next year.”

LB Matt Judon

“It was just kind of their night. They were hitting on all cylinders and sometimes you’ve just gotta give credit to the other team. It just sucks when you can’t play no more. It really sucks.”

C David Andrews

“It wasn’t good enough. And hats off to them. They played a really good game, and got behind early and just too much. I don’t know.”

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Caring for a husband who treated you poorly



Top 10 paid Massachusetts public employees and overtime high earners

Dear Abby: A year and a half ago, I separated from my husband because I was being neglected, not respected and mistreated emotionally. During the separation, he had to have surgery and needed to be taken care of while he healed. I went back because, as his wife, I felt obligated to do the right thing.

I have tried to move forward and restore my marriage, but I still don’t feel loved or appreciated. In the back of my mind, I can’t forget the way he treated me in the past. I feel stuck because he isn’t working and doesn’t plan on working again. He says he’s not able to, but I believe he could do something that’s not strenuous. How do I find my happiness and still do the right thing?

— Conflicted in the South

Dear Conflicted: Have you told your husband how you feel — about everything? If you have and nothing has changed, make an appointment with a lawyer to find out what your obligations may be to a husband who is no longer self-supporting.

If he has no income, you may have to provide for him financially from now on. For some women, this might mean remaining unhappily married but living their own lives to the extent they can, and not relying on their spouse for emotional or any other support.

Dear Abby: I have to meet my fiance’s adult children. They are not happy he’s in a relationship since their mom’s death two years ago. I’m very nervous about it, and so is he. What do we do?

— Taking the Next Step

Dear Taking: You meet them, and do your best to relax and be friendly and open with them. Understand they are still grieving the loss of their beloved mother, and be prepared to do a lot of listening. Refrain from physical displays of affection with your fiance until they get to know you.

If it becomes necessary, their father should be prepared to make clear to them that you two are going to be married and, while they do not have to “love” you, he expects them to treat you with courtesy, respect and kindness.

Dear Abby: Is it customary to give a house cleaner or cleaning service lunch or offer them food if they are doing an extensive cleaning job? I ask because my mother-in-law hired a cleaning crew. She watches my infant daughter during the day. She doesn’t cook or clean, although I pay her. Well, she gave the crew lunch. Mind you, she didn’t ask me if it was OK or if I wanted the leftovers for my own lunch. I wouldn’t mind, but I’m wondering if this is typical.

— Cleaning Crew Lunch

Dear Cleaning Crew: Let me put it this way: It is intelligent and hospitable to offer lunch if you want a happy, energetic cleaning crew who look forward to coming back. The practice is NOT uncommon.

P.S. If there are leftovers you would like to have for lunch, take them with you before the housekeepers arrive.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at

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Ask the Vet: How much testing should I pursue with my older cat?



Ask the Vet: How much testing should I pursue with my older cat?

After a long career in nursing and owning cats for most of my life, I wanted to reach out and ask for your opinion regarding my 17-year-old cat.

I have never been one to go overboard and do excess testing on my pets or go to extreme measures in their old age. Perhaps it is because of my experiences on the human side and some of the suffering that I have seen or learning to accept old age realities but either way, I have been hesitant to pursue extraordinary measures.

My cat just had her annual checkup and I pointed out that other than losing a little weight, she was doing well. My vet pointed out that she had a few teeth with heavy tartar and that her heart murmur had advanced a little bit. The vet also noticed a slight weight loss and then suggested bloodwork.

At first, I hesitated but on their suggestion I proceeded. I am glad that I did. It turns out that my cat has elevated liver function tests and is hyperthyroid. Can any of the clinical findings be related?

The next recommendations are for medical treatment but possible ultrasounds and cardiology workups. What should I do? Given her age, will there be any benefit or gain from doing any of this without putting her through a lot?

I am glad to know that your veterinarian was able to persuade you to do the bloodwork for your cat.

Truthfully, some things that are found can be successfully addressed with simple medical intervention whereas other issues might not be manageable or able to be corrected.

The weight loss and heart murmur increasing in severity are most likely both due to the hyperthyroidism. I would definitely try and manage that with medication and methimazole can be inexpensively and easily given on a daily basis to bring that thyroid value down into the normal range. Retesting after a short time is important to make sure that the value is normal and be adjusted if needed.

As for the liver ultrasounds and cardiac evaluation, there may well be value to pursuing diagnostics but less likelihood of doing something that can restore normalcy.

Neither pursuit would be putting her through a lot and might actually provide some benefits and a healthier and longer life.

One needs to also weigh out the costs and ease of managing the cat. After all, had your veterinarian not done this initial bloodwork, you might not even know of what was found and can be addressed. Some cats are very compliant with workups and treatments whereas others are difficult.

With your medical background and knowing your cat better than anyone else, I am sure you will make the right choices for your cat.

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