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Dec 20, 2012

Hunger and homelessness rise in U.S. cities: report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Across the United States, the number of hungry and homeless people is growing, and budget fights at the federal level are threatening the aid many need to survive, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said on Thursday.

Amidst the holiday season of family feasts and corporate dinners, the mayors released a report that found requests for emergency food assistance rose in 21 out of the 25 cities it surveyed in 2012 and remained at the same level in three. More than half the cities said homelessness increased.

Dec 20, 2012

U.S. states welcome tobacco settlement, bond woes remain

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A recent deal with tobacco companies will distribute money to 17 states that has been tied up for years, but the funds may only provide short-term relief to underfunded tobacco bonds.

Cigarette makers including Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co announced this week a settlement with the states in a long-running dispute over the amount of payments they are required to make under the 1998 landmark anti-smoking agreement. On Wednesday, prices for long tobacco bonds rose following news of the settlement.

Dec 17, 2012

In shadow of ‘fiscal cliff,’ Virginia must spend cautiously -gov

WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) – Virginia’s governor suggested
on Monday making small changes to the state’s biennial budget,
asking the legislature to bump up spending only slightly due to
risks posed by the federal government’s “fiscal cliff.”

“While the economy has expanded for 13 consecutive quarters,
the pace of the expansion has been quite modest and slower than
traditional recoveries,” Gov. Bob McDonnell told legislators.
“We cannot predict what new tax policies or spending cuts a
federal plan will contain, and if it will even be agreed upon
before our nation goes over the cliff in 14 days.”

Dec 15, 2012

Some Democrats call for action on gun control after Connecticut shootings

WASHINGTON, Dec 15 (Reuters) – A day after the Connecticut
elementary school massacre, a senior congressional Democrat on
Saturday called on U.S. lawmakers to pass sweeping new gun
control measures including banning assault weapons and
high-capacity clips, saying, “Politics be damned.”

Representative John Larson, chairman of the House of
Representatives Democratic Caucus, gave a list of specific
policies he wanted the U.S. Congress to vote on quickly after
the mass shooting in his home state of Connecticut.

Dec 14, 2012

U.S. states inch closer to pre-recession prosperity

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. states are coming close to the end of a three-year trek back to the financial prosperity they enjoyed before the recession, according to a survey released on Friday that found the recovery is slow and uneven.

The National Association of State Budget Officers and National Governors Association found that total state spending will likely rise 2.2 percent this fiscal year from last, while general fund revenues grow 3.9 percent to $692.8 billion.

Dec 12, 2012

Cuts, hikes and borrowing as US states work to pay jobless loans

WASHINGTON, Dec 12 (Reuters) – North Carolina lawmakers next
month will begin considering chipping away at aid for the
jobless, while squeezing more money from employers, all in the
hopes of retiring a debt to the federal government of more than
$2 billion.

As unemployment rose during the recession, North Carolina
borrowed repeatedly from the U.S. government to pay jobless
benefits. It has the third-largest such outstanding loan in the
country, $2.4 billion, behind California and New York.

Dec 11, 2012

Thousands of unemployed in Illinois face end of federal aid

WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (Reuters) – About 90,000 people in
Illinois will lose federal jobless aid at the end of the month
when an emergency assistance program ends, the state’s
employment department said on Tuesday.

Currently, people who are laid off can claim benefits from
the state for 25 weeks. They then move on to receive payments
from a national emergency program started under President George
W. Bush that has been extended multiple times under President
Barack Obama and has carried a price tag of roughly $520 billion
over five years, according to the non-partisan Congressional
Budget Office.

Dec 6, 2012

Good, but not great: US states find fiscal stability

WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) – Most U.S. states reached a
plateau of fiscal stability in 2012 as their revenues slowly
grew, but they still face threats from escalating costs, high
unemployment and federal budget cuts.

That has given rise to a single refrain in describing
current state budgets: good, but not great.

Nov 30, 2012

Only three major US cities see economic recovery-study

WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Retailers moving into old
downtown buildings, an abundance of freshly planted greenspaces,
and a stream of new jobs in Knoxville, Tennessee, are all signs
to Mayor Madeline Rogero that for the last year prosperity has
been blooming in her city.

“We feel very good about how we’re coming out of this
recession,” Rogero said. “We see new interest. We see new
development that’s occurring. We’re optimistic that this
recovery is going to continue.”

Nov 16, 2012

Congressional leaders optimistic after meeting Obama

WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (Reuters) – Republican and Democratic
congressional leaders emerged from a meeting with President
Barack Obama on Friday pledging to find common ground on taxes
and spending that would allow them to avert a looming “fiscal
cliff” that could send the economy back into recession.

The top lawmakers spoke to reporters as a group for the
first time in more than a year in what aides said was a joint
decision to project a message of unity.