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Morning Headlines: Friday, June 10, 2011

Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to sign the budget for Missouri's upcoming fiscal year today. He could make as many as $113 million in cuts.
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to sign the budget for Missouri's upcoming fiscal year today. He could make as many as $113 million in cuts.

Nixon to sign budget, Missouri RX bills

Gov. Jay Nixon will sign the 2012 budget for the state of Missouri - and cuts to the $23 billion spending plan are already in the works.

The governor said two weeks ago he would have to cut at least $113 million. Much of that is due to unplanned expenses from the Joplin tornado and flooding in southeast Missouri. More cuts could be necessary as the state is now also responding to floods along the Missouri River in the northwest corner of the state.

Nixon will also sign today legislation extending the Missouri Rx drug assistance program, which covers half the co-payments and insurance deductibles for low-income seniors. The program was scheduled to expire in August - the legislation extends it for another three years.

Mo. faces another lawsuit over Second Injury Fund

Another lawsuit has been filed over a financially troubled fund for injured workers.

The Second Injury Fund pays the disability claims of workers with pre-existing conditions or injuries who are re-injured on the job. In March, Attorney General Chris Koster halted payments for those with permanent, totally disabling conditions because the fund is almost broke. Revenue from the fund comes from a surcharge on worker's compensation insurance, but the Legislature capped that at 3 percent in 2005.

The new state lawsuit seeks to block enforcement of that cap, which drives the revenue shortfall.

Missouri is also facing a federal lawsuit from workers who qualify for total disability but have not been receiving their settlement payments.

Joplin School District approves school alternate sites

Juniors and seniors at Joplin High School will attend classes next year at a shopping mall.

That's one of several locations the district's  school board approved last night to house students from schools that were either damaged or destroyed in the May 22 F5 twister.

The Joplin Globesays the costs to retrofit the building will be covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And the temporary operations are expected to last beyond next school year, which starts Aug. 17.

Jury awards sexual harassment victim $95 million

A federal jury in East St. Louis has awarded a woman $95 million in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the rent-to-own company Aaron's.

The 20-year-old employee claimed she was harassed for almost a year by a supervisor at the Fairview Heights store, which led to a sexual assault in October 2006.

The jury awarded her $15 million in compensatory damages and $80 million in punitive damages.

In a statement, Aaron's says it will appeal, calling the large award a "classic runaway jury." The company says the award violates legal caps on awards.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.