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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation to help veterans and service members get jobs as police officers, emergency medical technicians and commercial vehicle drivers.

Quinn signed the bills Thursday before marching in the July Fourth parade in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights.

One measure allows service members and veterans who have at least two years of experience operating a military vehicle to bypass the state skills test when applying for a commercial driver's license. Another eliminates the college degree requirement for veterans who've earned certain medals and want to become Illinois State Police officers.

Quinn says veterans are "some of the best-trained men and women in the world." He says anyone who performs those jobs in Iraq or Afghanistan should be qualified to do them in Illinois.

 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 15:42
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois high school juniors will be tested on writing skills for the first time in years during standardized tests next spring.

But lawmakers haven't given the state board of education extra money to pay for the 30-minute essay test. Board officials tell The Associated Press they've been given the same $27 million to spend on assessments next year. That budget includes the same testing requirements as last year, along with an additional writing test estimated to cost $2.5 million. The board may ask lawmakers to approve additional funding.

Proponents of the addition say writing is more important than ever as the state prepares for tougher assessments in 2014-15. Last year, less than one-third of high schools met federal education law benchmarks.

Others criticize lawmakers' spending money the state doesn't have.

 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 15:41
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The University of Missouri's first year as the northernmost outpost of the Southeastern Conference cost the school an extra $1 million in unanticipated travel expenses.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports Missouri spent $7.1 million on travel in the 2012-13 academic year. That's $1 million more than what athletics officials expected and nearly $2 million more than travel costs during the school's final season in the Big 12 Conference.

Missouri shared the top spot for SEC travel costs with fellow Big 12 exile Texas A&M among the seven SEC public schools that provided data to the Tribune.

Commercial flights from Columbia to most SEC campuses are limited, and the move from the Big 12 eliminated games at three schools within driving distance: Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State.

 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 15:39
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A new report from a libertarian-leaning think tank rates Missouri's highway system eighth in the nation for overall condition and cost-effectiveness.

The annual survey by the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation was based on data from 2009, the latest year with full spending statistics available.

With about 34,000 miles of highway under state control, Missouri's is the seventh largest state-administered system in the country.

The report ranked Missouri first in the nation for the condition of rural interstate pavement, but 18th for urban interstate pavement condition. The study also ranks Missouri 16th in urban interstate congestion, 28th in fatality rates and 37th in deficient bridges.

 

Thursday, 04 July 2013 15:32
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