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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois House has approved a stripped-down pension plan that could delay and reduce cost-of-living increases for retirees and future retirees.

The bill is sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan and comes out of a laborious process where lawmakers are addressing the pension problem piece by piece instead of a total overhaul at once. House members voted in favor 66-50 yesterday. It's the third scaled-back pension bill the House has recently approved.

Thursday's proposal says that no cost-of-living increases can be taken until retirees reach 67 years of age, or five years after retirement and applies COLAs only to the first $25,000 of an annual pension.

Illinois has nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability because for years lawmakers either skipped or shorted payments.
Friday, 22 March 2013 02:43
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Friends and family of a metro-east Marine who was killed during a training exercise in Nevada will have a chance to pay their respects in his hometown.

The father of Aaron Ripperda says plans are being made to have the wake for his 26 year old son in Highland, Illinois. Kent Ripperda says a funeral Mass will be held at St. Paul's Catholic Church, but plans won't be finalized until there's word about when his son's body will be returned.

Ripperda was killed Monday during an explosion at the Hawthorne Army Depot. The 2005 Highland High School graduate was two months from ending his tour of duty with the Marines.

Meridith Funeral Home in Highland is handling arrangements.
Friday, 22 March 2013 02:23
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Three Marines are dead after a shooting at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia.

The suspected shooter, a male Marine, was killed from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound when authorities found his body inside a barracks building near the Officer Candidate School early this morning, Lt. Agustin Solivan told ABC News.

Authorities found a second victim dead in the Officer Candidate School, Solivan said. The gender of that Marine was not given.

The gunfire started at 11 p.m. Thursday when the suspected gunman killed a male Marine, Solivan said. The suspect barricaded himself inside a barracks building near the east side of the base near the Officer Candidate School, setting off a standoff with authorities.

The base had been put on lockdown but it has since been lifted.

"Marine Corps Base Quantico is Code Green at this time. All normal activities are cleared to resume," Quantico said on Twitter.

No further information on the victims have been released.
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Funding for many metro-east schools is nearing "crisis" status. The situation is getting so bad, that state education officials are pleading with state legislators to increase school funding by more than $800 million.

But the budget proposed by Governor Pat Quinn would cut education spending by more than $300 million.

Many Illinois school districts are already operating on deficits after the state failed to fully fund its obligations for the past two years. Virtually every metro-east district is laying off teachers in anticipation of less state funding next year. Some are cutting sports programs and closing schools.

St. Clair County schools superintendent Susan Sarfaty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that "Districts are no longer cutting fat from their budgets — they’re cutting bone." Sarfaty says "there's no more fat to cut."
Friday, 22 March 2013 02:09
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