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Illinois Governor due back pay

Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:49 Published in Local News

It was a little like forced savings, and now Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is set to get about $74,000 in back pay.

While Illinois lawmakers were battling over the state's $100-billion pension shortfall, the governor used his line-item veto power this summer to halt legislators' salaries, saying they shouldn't get paid until they address the pension crisis.

The Governor also stopped accepting his own paychecks.  A judge disagreed with Quinn in September and the state comptroller began issuing checks to lawmakers. But Quinn still didn't accept his own salary.  

Lawmakers approved the pension reform plan this week and sent the measure to the Governor on Wednesday. Lee Enterprise newspapers in Springfield reports that Quinn's past pay checks have still not been requested from the comptroller's office.

Space heater claims a life in University City

Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:25 Published in Local News

As the temperatures drop, the risk of fire rises as many people use space heaters to warm their homes and apartments.  

A University City house is the site of the latest fatal fire in the area. Fox2 News reports the victim of Tuesday's blaze was 51-year-old Wardie Neely Jr. who lived in the 6700 block of Plymouth Avenue.  Just last week, a St. Louis baby died in a fire caused by a space heater.

University City Assistant Fire Chief, David Crismon, is reminding residents to never leave a space heater near anything that could catch fire.  Crismon also says it`s not safe to use an extension cord with space heaters.

The assistant chief believes Neely was on the second floor when curtains caught fire.  Investigators said the curtains were directly above a natural gas powered space heater.

Crismon said firefighters did not hear any working smoke detectors when they arrived.  Many fire departments, including University City, install smoke detectors for free.

US ECONOMY GROWS AT 3.6 PERCENT RATE IN 3RD QTR.

Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:32 Published in National News

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a 3.6 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest since early 2012. But nearly half the growth came from a buildup in business stockpiles, a trend that could reverse in the current quarter and hold back growth.

The Commerce Department's second estimate of third-quarter growth released Thursday was sharply higher than the initial 2.8 percent rate reported last month. And it was well above the 2.5 percent growth rate for the April-June quarter.

Almost the entire third-quarter revision was due to a big jump in stockpiles. Consumer spending, the lifeblood of the economy, was the weakest in nearly four years.

When excluding inventories, the economy grew at a 1.9 percent rate in the third quarter, down from 2.1 percent in the spring. That's in line with the same subpar rate that the economy has seen since the Great Recession ended four years ago.

"There's no momentum here," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. He said overall economic growth could come in below 2 percent in the current October-December quarter.

Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, agreed that inventories will hold back growth in the current quarter. But he disagreed that the report suggested the economy was not strengthening. He noted that business sales increased markedly, corporate profits rose, income grew and Americans saved more. The report adds "to the evidence that the recovery is gaining momentum."

Business stockpiles contributed 1.7 percent points to growth, twice the contribution reported last month in the first estimate. Companies are likely to cut back on restocking at the end of the year, especially if they don't see consumers stepping up spending.

In the third-quarter, consumers increased their spending at a tepid 1.4 percent annual rate. That was the slowest since the final quarter of 2009, a few months after the recession officially ended. Consumer spending typically drives 70 percent of economic activity.

But the spending activity in the third quarter was held back by flat spending on services. That may have reflected an unusually mild summer, which cut demand for air conditioning. One hopeful sign: Consumer spent on goods at the fastest rate since early 2012.

Other details in the report were mixed. Business investment in equipment was flat in the third quarter. Spending on housing construction remained strong, rising at an annual rate of 13 percent. Government spending edged up at a slight 0.4 percent annual rate in the summer. The biggest spending increase in state and local government spending since 2009 offset another decline in federal expenditures.

A number reports have offered some promise that the fourth quarter could be stronger than many economists are predicting.

In October, spending at retail businesses rose solidly, U.S. exports grew to a record level and employers added 204,000 jobs. November car sales rose 9 percent and are running at an annual rate of 16.4 million, the best performance of the year, according to Autodata Corp.

But early reports on holiday shopping have been disappointing. The National Retail Federation estimates that sales over the four-day Thanksgiving Day weekend — arguably the most crucial shopping stretch for retail businesses — fell for the first time since the group began keeping track in 2006.

Faster growth could make the Federal Reserve more inclined to begin slowing its bond purchases, which have kept long-term interest rates low and encouraged more borrowing and spending.

Many economists believe the central bank will not reduce the $85 billion-a-month pace when it meets later this month.

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