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Colin Jeffery

Colin Jeffery

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois will end the year with overdue bills totaling $7.6 billion.
 
Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office says the amount is about 16 percent less than the $9 billion owed at the end of 2012. That's according to a Monday story in the Rockford Register-Star.
 
Topinka spokesman Brad Hahn says it's unclear how the landmark pension-reform package adopted this month will affect the backlog.
 
For one thing, retired teachers and other educators have filed a lawsuit over the plan to save $160 million over 30 years by cutting benefits. They say it's unconstitutional.
 
Hahn says the backlog benefited this year from $1.3 billion in tax revenues that officials didn't expect.
 
Topinka's office had predicted as late as a month ago that the year-end backlog would be closer to $9 billion.
 

Federal government ends extended jobless benefits

Saturday, 28 December 2013 10:53 Published in National News

WESTMINSTER, Calif. (AP) — The end of unemployment checks for more than a million jobless Americans has driven people to consider selling cars, moving and taking minimum wage work after already slashing household budgets and pawning personal possessions.

The change affected 1.3 million people on Saturday and will affect hundreds of thousands more who remain jobless in the months ahead.

The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress want to continue the program but the extensions were dropped from a budget deal earlier this month. Republican lawmakers have balked at the program's $26 billion annual cost.

Greg and Barbara Chastain of Huntington Beach, Calif. say they have exhausted their state unemployment benefits since losing work in June and now may uproot their family and move to save on rent.

Pro-gas interests decry NY inaction on fracking

Saturday, 28 December 2013 10:51 Published in National News

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — As another year closes with a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New York and no timetable for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to decide whether to lift it, drilling interests have all but given up on the state for the near future.

Cuomo has said he wants his health and environmental commissioners to take all the time they need to decide whether fracking can be done safely. Dozens of towns have enacted their own moratoriums in case the state does approve fracking.

Industry and landowners hoping to profit from leases are suing in state courts over town bans and the state's stalled regulations.

But many landowners want Cuomo to ban fracking. Organic dairy farmer Kathie Arnold says the risks of pollution and increased truck traffic outweigh any short-term financial gains.

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