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Morning headlines - Friday, May 11, 2012

IndofunkSatish/via Flickr

Judge approves settlement in lawsuit over mental health care for the deaf

A federal judge has approved a settlement in a class action lawsuit brought against two Missouri state agencies on behalf of more than a thousand deaf residents.

Plaintiffs in the 2010 lawsuit alleged that the state departments of Mental Health and Social Services failed to provide adequate mental health care for deaf persons in crisis.

The departments were sued under the  Americans with Disabilities Act.

"The agreement calls for better availability and access to interpreters for the deaf when they need mental health treatment," said Saint Louis University law professor John Amman. "It calls for new facilities. It's really just an important step forward in mental health services for the deaf."

The settlement also calls for the appointment of a statewide Coordinator for Deaf Services, who will be responsible for managing the system of care under the agreement.

Mo. students score better than average in science

A new report says that while Missouri’s eighth graders outperformed their peers in the rest of the country on a science proficiency exam, most still lacked a solid grasp of the subject.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that 36 percent of Missouri 8th graders scored proficient or above in science – the national average was 31 percent.

The US Department of Education says the results show 8th graders doing better in science than they were two years ago – but seven out of ten are still not proficient in the subject.

Gov. Quinn will sign measure requiring premiums for some retiree health care

Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn says he will sign a measure that would require some retired state employees to pay premiums for health insurance for the first time.

"I bet every single person in this chamber has campaigned on how we need to right the financial ship of state here," said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno. "That's been our primary discussion point over the last several years. We're all out on the trail saying, 'We're going to do the right thing, send me there to take the tough votes, I can do it.' And now we have the opportunity to do that."

The state Senate narrowly approved the measure yesterday on a 31-20 vote, with one Senator voting "present" and seven not voting at all.

About 90 percent of retired state and university workers do not pay premiums for health insurance. The state says that benefit cost at least $800 million this year. Under the measure, premiums would be based on a sliding scale determined by a retiree's pension income and their years of service to the state.

Union officials blasted the proposal.

"I think we have to be clear here what the intent of this legislation is, which is to take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the pockets of the state's 114,000 retired state and university former employees," said John Cameron, an official with AFSCME, the largest public employees union in the state.

Reporting from Brian Mackey was used in this story.

Southern Illinois University boosts freshman tuition, fees

Incoming students at Southern Illinois University will pay more next year, and continuiing students will see higher fees in many areas.

SIU's Board of Trustees approved the hikes on Thursday at a meeting Edwardsville. The increase is 4.8 percent for incoming students. Some fees will go up three percent, though others could remain flat.

SIU administrators say they've cot to the core in many areas, and aren't sure where else to trim.

The cuts have been painful all over the university system, said SIU president Glen Poshard.

"I think if you go on our campuses and ask the people who teach, and who man the labs and those kind of things if they've been cut, I don't think you'll be getting any 'no' answers," Poshard said.

Reporting from WSIU's Jennifer Fuller was used in this report.

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