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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — After alleging that Tennessee’s top leaders were placing unfair scrutiny over a predominantly Black town’s finances, the small town of Mason announced Wednesday it had reached a deal halting the threat of a state takeover of its finances. The settlement marks a victory for town officials who had argued the state was treating Mason’s majority-Black leaders differently than they have white administrators who also struggled with finances. “This settlement agreement is a good thing for the citizens of the town and it’s a good thing for African Americans across the country,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. The issue began when Comptroller Jason Mumpower asked Mason’s town leaders to surrender their charter, pointing to ongoing years of financial mismanagement. After Mason voters refused to do so, Mumpower later said the state would take over its financial supervision. The news of the pending takeover quickly sparked national attention as many pointed out that Mason is located near the site of a future $5.6 billion Ford electric pickup truck factory, which is expected to employ about 5,600...
    The post-World War II baby boom ended in the mid-1960s and — predictably — a decade later, California’s public schools saw a sharp drop in enrollment. Throughout the state, schools were shuttered and sites for new schools were sold off. It was, however, a short-lived phenomenon; within a few years California was experiencing a surge of population driven by immigration from other countries and a new baby boom. The predictable result was a marked increase in school enrollment that eventually topped 6 million, then leveled off and in recent years has been drifting downward. This month, the state Department of Education reported that for the first time in many years, enrollment had dropped below 6 million. The slow erosion in enrollment that began a half-decade ago stemmed from demographic factors, such as virtually no growth, or even a decline, in the state’s overall population, lower birthrates and an outflow of people, including children, to other states. In the last two years, school closures due to COVID-19 accelerated enrollment losses but the resumption of in-classroom instruction did not stem the hemorrhage. “Enrollment...
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee judge has declined to halt the state’s financial takeover of a majority-Black town near the site of a planned Ford pickup truck factory. The ruling Thursday by Nashville Chancellor Anne Martin reasons that officials’ concerns in the town of Mason are “slightly outweighed” by the state’s need to oversee balanced budgets and financial woes in local governments. Earlier this year, Comptroller Jason Mumpower raised eyebrows when he announced the state would take over financial supervision of Mason, a town near the site of a future Ford electric pickup truck factory, because of ongoing years of mismanagement. Mumpower made the decision after initially asking Mason’s town leaders to surrender their charter, which they refused to do. Days after the takeover was announced, Mumpower added that the state could scale back its financial oversight if Mason met certain goals by this summer. Town leaders sued, seeking to stop the takeover and challenge the state’s legal standing to require that Mason get approval to spend more than $100. As the legal challenge proceeds, the...
    The West Contra Costa Unified School District faces the somber prospect of a second state takeover in almost 25 years unless it finds a way to cut $24 million in expenses or is rescued by a California budget brimming with education funds. Yet the school board didn’t make the budget cutting task any easier despite warnings from district administrators, the Contra Costa County Office of Education and state assessors that the district is on the verge of going bankrupt again. The board voted 3-2 last month against laying off 200 district employees — about half of them full-time teachers. The layoffs, recommended by both the district and the county’s education office, would have shaved $12.5 million from the projected deficit. “The district’s finances are built, frankly, on a house of cards,” Michael Fine, CEO of the state’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, said at the board’s March 9 meeting when trustees Jamela Smith-Folds, Otheree Christian and Demetrio Gonzalez-Hoy voted against the layoffs. Trustees Mister Phillips and Leslie Reckler voted to cut the jobs. Noting that the district’s financial distress has been...
    MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The state of Tennessee could scale back its financial oversight of a majority-Black town near the site of a planned Ford truck plant if it meets certain goals by this summer, a move that comes after the state takeover drew national attention, officials said Wednesday. Tennessee Comptroller Jason Mumpower said last week that his office was taking over the finances of Mason, about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northeast of Memphis. The state comptroller’s office said the town, which is not far from a planned Ford electric pickup factory, has experienced 20 years of financial mismanagement. Mumpower is allowed under state law to direct Mason’s financial affairs, including the review and approval of all spending involving taxpayer or ratepayer money, his office said. The takeover came after Mason’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen refused to surrender its charter. The town’s current leadership is mostly Black, but white leaders were in charge for many of the years that the state said Mason’s affairs were mismanaged. State officials have maintained that the problems continued even after the change in...
    Black Lives Matter's fundraising pages on ActBlue were deactivated Friday, a day after the Washington Examiner exposed that BLM was still accepting donations on the Democratic platform despite claiming it had stopped amid questions about its finances. California and Washington state ordered BLM in January to cease soliciting contributions in their states until it discloses its finances for 2020, the year it raked in tens of millions during the nationwide unrest prompted by George Floyd's killing at the hands of police. BLM said Wednesday it had shut down online fundraising while it sorts out its compliance issues, but the group continued to accept charitable contributions through its ActBlue fundraising pages as recently as Thursday afternoon. "You have attempted to make a contribution to a fundraising page that has no active recipients: either the page's owner has removed all committees or organizations from the page, or we have concluded processing contributions for these committees or organizations," BLM's two ActBlue fundraising pages now state as of Friday morning. ACTBLUE STILL ALLOWING BLM TO SOLICIT DONATIONS DESPITE CHARITY'S SHUTDOWN...
    AFTER £400billion of Covid borrowing and with a tax rise looming it comes as a mighty relief to discover Rishi Sunak is still a Conservative. Indeed his impressive conference speech was reassuring about the need to fix the finances ravaged by the pandemic. 2The Chancellor set out his plan to fix the country's finances in his speech at the Conservative Party Conference We just hope Boris Johnson — a man more laid back about big spending — took it all in. Because the Chancellor’s argument, also made by The Sun countless times, was irrefutable. That simply borrowing more is the road to ruin, saddling future generations with our debt to pay back at the cost of their living standards. That jobs and better pay, not state handouts, are the routes out of poverty. That taxes should be CUT. That Brexit gives us the freedom to design and build a nimbler economy for the future. Britain, Mr Sunak rightly said, will not “trust a party that isn’t serious with their money”. That is a warning to his own party as much...
    A new report published by Chicago-based Truth in Accounting found that the majority of state finances worsened in 2020, with taxpayer burdens skyrocketing. The twelfth annual Financial State of the States report ranks all 50 states by their financial health based on the latest available data from states’ fiscal year 2020 audited Annual Comprehensive Financial Reports. “Despite receiving federal assistance from the CARES Act and other COVID-19 related grants, the majority of states’ finances worsened,” the report found. “Total debt among the 50 states amounted to $1.5 trillion at the end of the fiscal year 2020.” Out of the 50 states, 39 did not have enough money to pay their bills during the onset of the state shutdowns related to the coronavirus. Despite all states receiving federal aid from the CARES Act and other COVID-19 related grants, the majority of their finances worsened during fiscal year 2020. TIA calculated how much each taxpayer would owe to pay off their respective state’s debt, resulting in a Taxpayer Burden. The average Taxpayer Burden across all 50 states was $9,300 for fiscal year...
    CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) — More than $104 million in Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls went uncollected last year as the agency fully converted to all-electronic tolling, with the millions of motorists who don’t use E-ZPass having a nearly 1 in 2 chance of riding without paying under the “toll-by-plate” license plate camera system. An internal turnpike report issued in July and obtained by The Associated Press through a Right-to-Know Law request showed nearly 11 million out of the total of about 170 million turnpike rides generated no revenue for the agency in the year that ended May 31. READ MORE: Philadelphia Aims To Increase Oversight, Police Gets Raises In New FOP Contract “We take this issue very seriously. It is a big number, there’s no question,” turnpike Chief Executive Mark Compton said. “But we, as an organization, are leaving no stone unturned in the way in which we’re going after that leakage.” Toll revenue “leakage” — an industry euphemism for uncollected tolls — has become the focus of turnpike agencies across the country as the use of E-ZPass transponders and license plate...
    CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) — More than $104 million in Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls went uncollected last year as the agency fully converted to all-electronic tolling, with the millions of motorists who don’t use E-ZPass having a nearly 1 in 2 chance of riding without paying under the “toll-by-plate” license plate camera system. An internal turnpike report issued in July and obtained by The Associated Press through a Right-to-Know Law request showed nearly 11 million out of the total of about 170 million turnpike rides generated no revenue for the agency in the year that ended May 31. “We take this issue very seriously. It is a big number, there’s no question,” turnpike Chief Executive Mark Compton said. “But we, as an organization, are leaving no stone unturned in the way in which we’re going after that leakage.” Toll revenue “leakage” — an industry euphemism for uncollected tolls — has become the focus of turnpike agencies across the country as the use of E-ZPass transponders and license plate cameras continues to spread. It is a particular problem for the debt-strapped Pennsylvania...
    By MICHAEL R. BLOOD | The Associated Press LOS ANGELES  — Larry Elder, a talk radio host and Republican candidate in the California recall election that could remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, reported income of more than $100,000 in the last year from business interests that included media and film companies and a string of political speeches, according to documents released Tuesday. Records prepared for state regulators also showed Elder received income from advertising for a health supplement and work for the right-wing Epoch Times newspaper. Elder, 69, who also is known for his appearances on Fox News, has eclipsed his GOP rivals in fundraising since entering the recall contest on July 12. Elder’s swift rise to prominence in the campaign has drawn the attention of Newsom, who has been centering his attacks on him, calling Elder out of step with California families and progressive values. Last week, Newsom and Elder clashed over mask and vaccine mandates supported by the governor, which Elder said “will be suspended right away” if he takes office. The election is set for...
    Larry Elder, the leading contender vying to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom if he is recalled, appears to have not properly listed his business holdings on a financial disclosure statement designed to reveal a candidate’s potential conflicts of interests, The Times has found. Like all candidates in the Sept. 14 election, Elder was required to file a public Statement of Economic Interests that shows his sources of income, business ownership, investments, gifts and loans. The Republican talk show host did not disclose any stake in Laurence A. Elder & Associates Inc., a company he appears to own, experts said. Elder did list the company as a source of personal income. However, state law requires a separate disclosure of income received by any business in which a candidate holds at least a 10% ownership interest. Sources of income to the business above certain amounts also must be identified. In response to questions from The Times, a spokeswoman for Elder’s campaign said, “It appears there might have been an oversight.” She did not specify further. “As you know, these are extensive filings...
    JERUSALEM — The State Department has opened an inquiry into an Israeli government report that Qatar’s monarchy funded Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization. “We are looking into the allegations,” a State Department spokesman told the Washington Examiner earlier this month, adding that “Qatar and the United States have a robust strategic, security, and counterterrorism partnership. Qatar is one of the United States's closest military allies in the region. U.S.-Qatar military and security cooperation contributes to the safety and stability of the region.” The alleged terror finance activities of the Islamic regime in Doha surfaced during last month’s Oval Office meeting between President Joe Biden and outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. ISRAELIS PLAN MILITARY BUILDUP TO COUNTER 'IRAN ARMING ITSELF WITH A NUCLEAR WEAPON' Rivlin furnished the White House with intelligence regarding “recent funding that Qatar provided to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” the Times of Israel reported, citing an Israel diplomatic official speaking on the condition of anonymity. The person also added that the information alarmed the U.S. officials at the meeting. The Washington Examiner contacted...
    The mayor of one of Westchester’s largest cities is sounding the alarms and declaring a State of Emergency as the community contends with “gross negligence and dereliction of duty” of the city’s Comptroller. Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard announced on Thursday, July 15 that she has declared a State of Emergency due to internal strife at City Hall as Comptroller Deborah Reynolds allegedly failed to process or pay invoices for hundreds of thousands of dollars for city vehicles. According to Patterson-Howard, Reynolds has failed to pay approximately $500,000 for critical parts and maintenance of police, fire, and public works vehicles, prompting the declaration of a State of Emergency. Patterson-Howard said that the financial “nearly (the city’s) entire fleet of vehicle has been impacted by this crisis.” The announcement of a State of Emergency came a day after the city announced that it will be suspending yard waste pickup through the rest of July due to a shortage of operable vehicles. Patterson-Howard said that they will lean on their neighbors in the interim, and that the State of Emergency will...
    Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said the state’s financial condition is moving in the right direction despite a structural deficit, multi-billion dollar backlog of bills and one of the highest unfunded pension liabilities in the nation. During a virtual conversation Friday with Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Mendoza said that wasn’t the case last year when things looked dire when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay in tax collections. “That is why we had to rely on borrowing from the Federal Reserve at a lower rate just to get us through April and May, which typically would be our best months,” Mendoza said. Mendoza said when she took office, the state had a backlog in bills totaling over $16 billion, which she adds is considerably lower now. Mendoza said Illinoisans are paying enormous property taxes, adding that Illinois is not taking in enough revenue. That's a point of contention with Republicans, who say the state is spending too much money in the wrong places. “One of the reasons why your property taxes are so high is because the...
    Florida officials are preparing options for what to do about Donald Trump should he be charged by New York prosecutors while he is in the Sunshine state. The Manhattan district attorney's criminal investigation into the former president is reaching its final stages and an obscure extradition clause in Florida law could benefit Trump if he's indicted. In Florida's statute on interstate extradition, the state's governor has the power to intervene over whether an indicted 'person ought to be surrendered' to law enforcement officials from another state, Politico revealed. That means if Trump gets charged by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance - who is probing the former president's business practices - it would be in the hands of Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Trump friend and ally, to decide if Trump should be handed over to New York authorities.  Law enforcement officials in Palm Beach County, Fla., where Trump lives in his Mar-a-Lago club, are preparing for a possible indictment coming down from New York.  And they're discussing how to how to handle the thorny extradition issue that could come from it,...
    BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Governor Larry Hogan weighed in on the federal criminal investigation into Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her husband, Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby, during his COVID-19 briefing Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t know anything about the investigation other than what I read in the media,” the governor told reporters. “It’s very concerning. Obviously, there’s a federal investigation going on, and we’re getting bits and pieces of it. But it’s obviously something that needs to be looked into.” READ MORE: You Got The COVID Vaccine, Whats Next? LifeBridge Health Doctor Says Life Wont Return To Normal Just Yet Those new comments came as the couple’s lawyer took the unusual step of demanding the Department of Justice remove two veteran federal prosecutors from the probe. Attorney for Nick and Marilyn Mosby files complaint with Dept of Justice over investigation into the couple. The Washington Post reports https://t.co/HsDdeos4zY pic.twitter.com/JOXO0mLpCh — Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) March 23, 2021   A Scott Bolden wrote the D.O.J.’s Office of Professional Responsibility, “There is no question that the investigation against my clients is...
    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A year ago, Gov. Mike Parson and other state leaders were bracing for the worst, acknowledging that the coronavirus pandemic could devastate Missouri's finances. Fewer people working would mean a reduction in income tax revenue. Business closures would affect sales taxes. Lockdowns would keep people from driving, meaning less in motor fuel taxes. “Is it going to affect the state? Yes,” Parson, a Republican, said in March 2020. The pandemic has really hurt the state economy and cost thousands of people their lives or livelihoods, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday that the impact has been so much less damaging than expected that Parson freed up the last chunk of money he had cut from the budget in preparation for tough financial times. Unemployment is at 5.7%, which is far better than many imagined, and the state has been helped by $3.8 million in federal stimulus money. Parson has drawn criticism from some for leaving counties and local governments to decide whether to impose shutdown orders or mask requirements. He, however, argues that his...
    As the Illinois Senate prepares to return to the Illinois Capitol Tuesday, leaders from opposite sides of the aisles are eying the state’s troubled finances. Senate President Don Harmon. D-Oak Park, told the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Monday since voters last year rejected the proposed progressive income tax increase on higher earners, the day of reckoning is here. “The only alternative I can think of is to start cutting some of those government services to figure out what tolerance people have for giving up some of those things they assumed were always going to happen,” Harmon said. He’s not eager for cuts but he said the conversation must happen. Minority Republicans have for years said the state needs to shore up spending. Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, said they’ll keep pushing for that. “We’re going to talk about pension reform, we’re going to be talking about Medicaid reform, we’re going to be talking about group health insurance, a myriad of other things that we believe are fundamentally necessary to get our...
    By JEFF AMY, Associated Press ATLANTA (AP) — House Speaker David Ralston is backing a $100-million-plus state income tax cut, one sign of a rebound in state finances even as government and school budgets have yet to be fully restored to health. House Bill 593 would raise the amount of money that someone could earn before starting to pay state income taxes. The standard deduction for an individual would rise from $4,600 to $5,400, while the standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly would rise from $6,000 to $7,100. The change would allow Georgians to save up to $75 a year on their income taxes, although many would save less. “I am proud to lead the House’s ongoing efforts to provide meaningful tax relief to Georgia families," Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican, said in a statement. “As a growing and prosperous state we have an obligation to be good stewards of the people’s money and return as much of it to them as we can.” The measure is sponsored by the Republican who leads the House's tax-writing efforts, House...
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