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#794054 --- 04/23/08 04:03 PM McCain Says Nation in Recession
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McCain Vows War on Poverty, Says Nation in Recession Edwin Chen
Wed Apr 23, 12:27 PM ET
April 23 (Bloomberg) -- Republican John McCain, saying the nation is in a recession and ``families are hurting,'' retraced Lyndon Johnson's steps in eastern Kentucky and pledged to mount a war on poverty different from that waged by the former Democratic president.

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#795095 --- 04/25/08 07:44 AM Re: McCain Says Nation in Recession [Re: Retired Soldier]
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Many states appear to be in recession
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS | Associated Press Writer
5:05 AM EDT, April 25, 2008
The finances of many states have deteriorated so badly that they appear to be in a recession, regardless of whether that's true for the nation as a whole, a survey of all 50 state fiscal directors concludes.

The situation looks even worse for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in most states.

"Whether or not the national economy is in recession -- a subject of ongoing debate -- is almost beside the point for some states," said the report to be released Friday by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The weakening economy is hitting tax revenue in a number of ways: People's discretionary income is being gobbled up by higher food and fuel costs, while the tanking housing market means people are spending less on furniture and appliances associated with buying a house.

The situation is grim in Delaware, with a $69 million gap this year, and bleak in California, with a projected $16 billion budget shortfall over the next two years, the report said. Florida does not expect a rapid turnaround in revenue because of the prolonged real estate slump there.

By mid-April, 16 states and Puerto Rico were reporting shortfalls in their current budgets as the revenue those budgets were built on -- typically, taxes -- fell short of estimates. That's double the number of states reporting a deficit six months ago.

The NCSL said the news is even worse for the upcoming fiscal year, with 23 states and Puerto Rico already reporting budget shortfalls totaling $26 billion. More than two-thirds of states said they are concerned about next year's budgets.The results are consistent with a drumbeat of bad economic news for states that several budget groups have produced in the past few months.



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#795137 --- 04/25/08 09:00 AM Re: McCain Says Nation in Recession [Re: Retired Soldier]
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McCain is right. The nation is in recession, but so far he has no solutions.

Unpaid utility bills soar as economy sags

By Judy Keen, USA TODAY
CHICAGO Hundreds of thousands of utility customers are at risk of disconnections as the sagging economy drives up the number of past-due home heating bills and the amounts owed, utility companies in cold-weather states say.
Xcel Energy says 17%-19% of its 1.1 million Minnesota customers and its 280,000 Wisconsin customers are in arrears. That's about the same as a year ago, but balances owed are up 10% in Minnesota and up 20% in Wisconsin, says Pat Boland, Xcel's credit policy manager.

Xcel disconnects 600-650 customers daily, he says. "Obviously the economy is playing a very big role in the disposable income that folks have," Boland says. Another factor: Cold weather added 7%-8% to this year's bills.

The extent of the problem is becoming apparent now because most states in the Midwest and Northeast have moratoriums on disconnecting utilities in winter months. Those restrictions typically end March 31 or April 15. Companies try to work out payment plans before curtailing service, and aid is available for some low-income customers.

A record $40 million was owed by 226,670 delinquent customers of rate-regulated utilities statewide in March, says Jerry McKim of Iowa's Bureau of Energy Assistance. "What we have is a crisis that never goes away," and more federal and state assistance is needed, he says.

In March, 89,002 disconnect notices were issued, up from 86,035 in March 2007, McKim says. Iowa's moratorium applies only to customers who qualify and apply for low-income energy aid.

Elsewhere:

Central Maine Power Company says that as of March 31, 29,000 of its 537,000 residential customers had not paid anything on their accounts since December a 4% increase from 2007.

Northern Utilities, which supplies natural gas to 26,000 residential and business customers in Maine, says the amount owed by customers whose bills are 30-60 days past due is up 45% from the first quarter of 2007.

Northern's customers in New Hampshire and accounts at sister company Bay State Gas in Massachusetts have similar arrearages, says spokeswoman Sheila Doiron.

In River Falls, Wis., a city of 14,000, service to a dozen homes with overdue bills was discontinued by River Falls Municipal Utilities this month, says customer service supervisor Jan Lorenz. The utility has 5,800 customers. "In past years, nobody would be shut off," she says.

Home foreclosures and high gasoline prices are part of the problem. "We see people that just move in the middle of the night and they're gone," Lorenz says. "We have people say, 'I can't afford gas to go to work, so how can I pay my bills?' "

Forty-five customers of St. Croix Gas, which serves 7,000 customers in the River Falls area, haven't paid after being cut off on April 15 a 10% increase from 2007, vice president Marti Piepgras says. Disconnect notices are up 50% this year.

Wisconsin Public Service says 12%-15% of its 500,000 residential customers have past-due bills. That's up 5% from 2007, says credit administrator Jim Ollmann. "Customers are struggling," he says.

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