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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says the Illinois House should act quickly to approve a pension-reform package because the state's economy depends on it.

House Speaker Michael Madigan's plan to increase employee contributions and trim benefits is scheduled for a House vote Thursday.

Years of state underfunding of pension accounts has left Illinois $97 billion short of covering future obligations.

The Democratic governor says the liability grows by $17 million a day. He says Illinois' economy won't fully recover until reform is approved.

But union representatives told a House committee Wednesday the opposite is true. Illinois Education Association President Cinda Klickna says cutting pension benefits takes away money retirees spend in local communities and especially hits teachers who don't have Social Security benefits.

 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 15:39
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The St. Louis Zoo is once again asking for feedback on plans for their new expansion.

After zoo officials bought the old Forest Park Hospital in October 2012, they said no work would start without input from the public. This evening, there is an open house in the zoo where you can make your voice heard.

The event runs from 4-7PM in The Living World near the north entrance to the zoo. 

You can see the expansion plans here.

 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 13:31
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A new state report that Illinois coal once shunned for its high sulfur content is enjoying record demand overseas.

The Illinois Office of Coal Development said Wednesday that the report it had done by Energy Ventures Analysis Inc. showed that 13 million tons of Illinois coal was exported last year. That's a five-fold increase from the 2.5 million tons shipped out of the U.S. in 2010.

Officials attribute the increase to the state's wealth of coal, competitive pricing and Illinois' proximity to shipping routes including the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Total Illinois coal output rose 25 percent to 47.2 million tons in 2012, up from 37.8 million tons in 2011.

The Office of Coal Development is a division of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 13:15
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The St. Louis area unemployment rate still sits above seven percent--at 7.5 %--but there is good news in the latest set of job numbers.

The number of jobs in the area has increased over last year. Some of the sectors that showed the largest gains were trade, education, and health services. While the area with the greatest number of losses was the government.

In total, there are 2,300 more jobs in March 2013 compared to March 2012.

 

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 13:12
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