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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois House has approved a comprehensive pension-reform plan for the first time after years of talks.

The House voted 62-51 Thursday to advance the measure sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The Chicago Democrat's proposal is designed to close a $97 billion deficit that dogs the state's pension plans. Underfunding for decades has left the accounts short of what they need.

The legislation requires employees to contribute 2 percent more of their earnings to their pensions. They would also have to delay retirement and accept less-generous annual cost-of-living increases.

The state would guarantee it would make its required contribution every year.

The measure now goes to the Senate where President John Cullerton has his own ideas about reform.

 

Thursday, 02 May 2013 16:17
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CHICAGO (AP) - A government study finds the suicide rate among middle-aged Illinois residents is increasing, but not by as much as the national rate for the same age group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the report Thursday. The agency provided state numbers to The Associated Press.

Between 1999 and 2010, the suicide rate in Illinois among those ages 35 to 64 climbed nearly 19 percent. The rate rose from 11 suicides per 100,000 people to 13 suicides per 100,000.

The national suicide rate for the same age group rose by 28 percent.

Health officials say new strategies for suicide prevention should address issues middle-aged Americans are likely to face. Those issues include financial challenges, caregiver responsibilities for children and aging parents, and health problems.

Thursday, 02 May 2013 14:42
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A 34-year-old man faces several charges after prosecutors say he tried to rape a Bridgeton woman before violently attacking her with a hammer.

Police say on April 21 Daniel Lee broke into the woman's home to steal coins. Lee found the home owner then allegedly tried to rape her and started to viciously beat her with the hammer. During the arrest, police say Lee also tried to grab an officer's gun.

Thursday, 02 May 2013 14:40
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri senator blocked a vote on a bill that would base some state funding for Missouri public universities on performance standards and career placement.

Republican Sen. Kurt Schaefer, of Columbia, blocked the Senate vote Thursday. He says the Legislature should spend more time studying the effects of the proposed higher education funding formula before voting. Lawmakers have until fiscal year 2015 to put the formula in place.

Under the legislation, 10 percent of state funding to universities would be tied to whether a school meets performance and career placement goals.

Currently, the state allots money to higher education institutions based largely upon how much colleges and universities received in the past and how much Missouri has available for the future.

 

Thursday, 02 May 2013 14:37
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