Kansas Delays School Aid Payments— Kansas delayed half of the aid payments due to its public school districts at the start of the new year for a few days because of concerns about a short-term cash crunch, an official confirmed Tuesday.Elaine Frisbie, deputy state budget director, told The Associated Press that $98 million in funds that normally would have reached school districts Monday won’t get to them until the end of this week. The state paid the other half of the aid on time. She said the state decided to be cautious after its tax collections in December were about $22 million short of expectations. Postponing part of the aid to schools allowed the state to avoid a delay in meeting other financial obligations, such as paying bills from health care providers for services to needy Kansans under the Medicaid program.
VAT Increased To 20 Per Cent – The rate of VAT has risen from 17.5 to 20 per cent as the government attempts to cut the UK’s debt. Analysts believe retailers will be significantly affected by the change. Opponents of the increase fear the poorest will suffer the most from the change. The rise was announced in the June budget. The government says boosting tax revenues is necessary to cut the country’s debt levels. Children’s clothing, food and newspapers are not subject to VAT. Online shopping group Kelkoo and the Centre for Retail Research say retailers will be hit hard. Research by the groups suggests sales will drop by £2.2 billion in the first three months following the change. The British Retail Consortium (BRC) warned the change may also shorten the typical January sales period.
Unemployment Rises In Two-Thirds Of Metro Areas – Unemployment rates rose in more than two-thirds of the nation’s largest metro areas in November, a sharp reversal from the previous month and the most since June. The Labor Department said Tuesday that unemployment rates rose in 258 of the 372 largest cities, fell in 88 and remained the same in 26. That’s worse than the previous month, when rates fell in 200 areas and rose in 108. The economy is strengthening, but employers have been reluctant to create jobs. Hiring will pick up in 2011, but not enough to significantly lower the unemployment rate, economists forecast. Metro areas in states with the weakest housing markets, such as California, Nevada, Florida and Georgia, are seeing ongoing increases in unemployment. Las Vegas, Atlanta, San Francisco and Miami all saw their rates rise. Construction jobs haven’t returned. Real estate agents and mortgage broker positions have also disappeared.
Fed Minutes: Economy Still Too Weak To Cut Off Stimulus – The economy remains sluggish and the jobs situation too bleak for the Federal Reserve to consider halting the $600 billion asset purchase plan announced in November, the minutes of the last Federal Open Market Committee meeting said Tuesday. Although participants saw incoming info "pointing to some improvement in near-term outlook," policy makers remained deeply concerned about unemployment hovering near 10 percent. With the Fed suggesting the risk of deflation is receding and that core inflation has bottomed out, the benefits of the bond purchase program outweigh any possible negative consequences, according to Fed officials.
The World According to Monsanto – 109 min – Nov