Panel makes tweaks to Ohio midterm budget bill
Written by Associated Press   
Monday, 02 June 2014 21:26
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio legislative panel made tweaks Monday to the governor's wide-ranging midterm budget plan as lawmakers sought to sort out the differences between the state House and Senate versions of the measure.

The proposal includes a package of tax cuts added in the Senate and backed by Gov. John Kasich.

The six-member conference committee adjusted the bill's small business tax cut to make it contingent on available state revenues. The change would boost a small business tax cut to up to 75 percent on income up to $250,000 for the 2014 tax year, instead of a flat 75 percent.

The change gives the state some wiggle room. Though the state's budget director, Tim Keen, told the panel he believed the funds would be available to allow for a 75 percent tax reduction and the wording was a precaution.

People close to case: Ohio politicians subpoenaed
Written by MARK GILLISPIE, Associated Press   
Monday, 02 June 2014 21:25
CLEVELAND (AP) — Two prominent Ohio politicians have been subpoenaed to possibly testify in a trial that began Monday for a northeast Ohio businessman accused of funneling illegal campaign contributions to their campaigns in the hope they would help him with an expensive California lawsuit, The Associated Press has learned.

Millionaire businessman Benjamin Suarez, president of North Canton-based Suarez Corporation Industries, is accused of using employees and others as conduits to illegally contribute about $100,000 each to the 2012 re-election campaign of Republican U.S. Rep. James Renacci and to the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, also a Republican.

Sources with direct knowledge of the case say Suarez's defense attorneys have issued subpoenas to Mandel and Renacci. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Neither politician has been accused of wrongdoing. The issuance of subpoenas does not mean they will be called to testify at the trial in federal court. The subpoenas were first reported by The Columbus Dispatch.

Snyder announces initiatives for Michigan seniors
Written by EMMA FIDEL, Associated Press   
Monday, 02 June 2014 21:22
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — New initiatives to improve services for Michigan seniors will include a "one-stop shop" website for aging information, Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday.

The Republican governor, whose re-election bid depends in part on appealing to senior voters, said he wants the four state agencies that serve the growing population to collaborate to increase efficiency.

The website, he said, will improve access to state services and provide guidance for things such as retirement planning by early 2015.

"Ensuring that more older adults have the opportunity to be healthy, independent and productive individuals in age-friendly communities that support their needs will be critical as the state plans for the future," Snyder said in the Detroit suburb of Rochester.

Study: Teacher absences cost students, districts
Written by CAROLYN THOMPSON, Associated Press   
Monday, 02 June 2014 21:22
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — About one in six teachers in some of the country's largest public school districts are out of the classroom at least 18 days, or more than 10 percent of the time, for illness, personal reasons and professional development, according to a report out Tuesday that urges districts to make teacher attendance a higher priority.

Even teachers in line with the average of 11 days out may be hurting their students' progress, the National Council on Teacher Quality said.

"Given the time and attention spent on school programs, new curriculum and strategies to strengthen teacher quality," the report's authors wrote, "we may be overlooking one of the most basic, solvable and cost effective reasons why schools may fail to make education progress."

The Washington-based think tank examined data provided by 40 large school districts for the 2012-13 school year and found that, on average, teachers were in the classroom 94 percent of the 186-day school year. About 71 percent of the time taken was because of illness or personal leave, with the rest for school business.

Plan pushes Michigan to use more renewable energy
Written by JOHN FLESHER, AP Environmental Writer   
Monday, 02 June 2014 21:20
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan must quicken its pace at developing renewable power sources such as wind while becoming more efficient with energy to meet requirements outlined Monday by the Obama administration for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired electric plants.

A plan drafted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would require Michigan to reduce carbon output by 31.5 percent from 2012 levels, when its utilities pumped 63 million metric tons into the atmosphere — 11th highest among the states. Coal-fired power plants are the leading source of greenhouse gases pushing the climate toward warming that scientists say could produce catastrophic damage.

Coal is the primary fuel for electricity in Michigan, as in neighboring states in the industrial Midwest. Michigan gets 49 percent of its power from coal, 26 percent from nuclear plants and 20 percent from natural gas.

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