- - Sunday, July 3, 2011


Governor plans to cancel $77 million in pay raises

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, wants to skip raises for thousands of state employees to help cope with the Illinois budget crisis.

The administration notified 14 state agencies and employee unions that the 2 percent raises won’t be paid as required by contract because lawmakers did not include enough money in the new state budget.

“If the state paid these increases, the impacted agencies would not be able to make payroll for the entire fiscal year, preventing them from continuing operations and providing core services to the people of Illinois,” said a statement from Quinn spokeswoman Mica Matsoff.

She said canceling the raises would affect nearly 30,000 employees and save the state more than $75 million.


Tired air traffic controllers can skip work, FAA says

Federal aviation officials say air traffic controllers will be allowed to use sick or annual leave time if they are too tired to work.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday it has reached an agreement on with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association on several policy changes aimed at keeping controllers alert on the job, especially during overnight shifts.

Since April, the FAA has disclosed seven instances of controllers sleeping on the job this year. In one case, two airliners landed without assistance from a controller who was dozing.

Controllers will also now be allowed to listen to the radio and read on overnight shifts when air traffic is light.


GOP candidate Pawlenty raises $4.2M in quarter

A campaign aide to Tim Pawlenty says the Republican presidential hopeful raised $4.2 million in the fundraising period that ended Thursday.

Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant says the former Minnesota governor has more money in the bank than the party’s 2008 nominee, John McCain, had at this point. Mr. Conant did not disclose the sum, but Mr. McCain had $1.4 million.

Mr. Pawlenty has been raising money for both a primary and a general election campaign. Aides did not break down how much of his fundraising was for a primary and how much is off-limits unless he is the GOP’s nominee.

Rival Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, was expected to report $15 million to $20 million for his fundraising quarter. Mr. Romney is only raising money for his primary.


HUD secretary concedes obstacles to home ownership

Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan says he thinks it’s unlikely that home prices will continue to drop and calls it a good time to buy a home.

Mr. Donovan acknowledges that officials must find ways to provide access to home ownership that doesn’t require a 20 percent downpayment.

Mr. Donovan spoke Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”


Iran backing wrong sides in Arab Spring, senators say

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman are expressing concern that Iran is aggressively extending its support for anti-democracy forces wherever they appear.

In appearances on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Graham, a Republican, says it is important for the United States to push back against Iran’s assistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan, opponents of the government in Iraq and protesters battling the Syrian regime.

Mr. Lieberman says Iran has the blood of hundreds of American soldiers on its hands and that legislation in Congress would impose additional economic sanctions on an Iranian government that has murdered its own people.


Sides have shutdown options In showdown over budget

ST. PAUL, Minn. — As Minnesota’s government shutdown drags on, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Republican legislators are likely seeking a way out.

Experts say they have several options for reaching a compromise, including one that doesn’t involve raising taxes.

Former state finance commissioner Tom Hanson says he foresees Republicans agreeing to spend more than the $34 billion they’d proposed as a spending limit but seeking ways to pay for it other than an income tax hike. Mr. Hanson served under Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and he says that’s the worst tax increase option.

Mr. Dayton has sought an income tax increase on the state’s top earners, saying they can afford it.

Some other options for raising money include further delays in school aid payments, surcharges on medical providers, expanded gambling or issuing bonds for tobacco payments.


Bachmann wooing Iowa ahead of key GOP poll

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Republican candidate Michele Bachmann spent Saturday shaking hands in Iowa diners and strolling through a bustling farmers market as she tried to capitalize on her early popularity in the state that kicks off the presidential campaign season.

An Iowa native, the tea party favorite ranked nearly even with GOP front-runner Mitt Romney in a recent poll of Republicans likely to participate in the state’s lead-off caucuses next year. But just six weeks before the state’s closely-watched straw poll, the Minnesota congresswoman has done little to campaign or set up an organization here.

Beginning her first sustained campaign trip to Iowa as an announced candidate, Mrs. Bachmann introduced herself to audiences from Iowa City to Des Moines in a new campaign bus emblazoned with her name. She spent much of Saturday posing for pictures and signing autographs rather than in meetings with key GOP activists.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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