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Panel: Projections for Iowa’s budget are down again

WQAD News -

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials say projections for Iowa’s budget are down again, and could force spending cuts when lawmakers return in January.

A three-person panel concluded Thursday that the $7.2 billion budget in effect since July is down by about $130 million. The panel says Iowa’s economy is growing more slowly than expected.

Iowa Department of Management Director David Roederer says it’s too early to know the impact on the current budget but midyear reductions may be necessary.

The news comes months after the GOP-controlled Legislature cut agency budgets and borrowed money to offset reduced projections released earlier this year and last.

Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for poor budget priorities. GOP Gov. Kim Reynolds is seeking bipartisan support for tax cuts and skilled jobs training.

The revenue panel meets again in December.

Trump fundraising arm launches National Anthem petition

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(CNN) — A fundraising committee backing President Donald Trump has launched a petition calling for supporters to be counted among those who believe in standing for the National Anthem.

The message is paid for by a joint fundraising group between Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee and is posted on the Republican Party’s official website. The petition asks for a full name, email address and zip code as a sign of patriotism and support for the National Anthem.

Trump has sparred with the NFL and the players who have protested during the National Anthem, putting himself in the middle of a controversy with significant racial and cultural undertones. The Trump campaign team earlier this month offered supporters an “I STAND FOR THE FLAG” sticker in exchange for contributions of at least $5 to the committee, and Trump himself has frequently tweeted on the subject.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier this week at an owners meeting in New York that players are not attempting to disrespect the flag in kneeling during the anthem, although he urged them to stand. However, the league said it will not mandate that players stand for the anthem despite Trump’s continued requests.

Anthem protests began at the start of last season, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during a preseason game’s national anthem.

Protests spread this season after Trump suggested at an Alabama campaign rally last month that NFL owners fire players who kneel during the Anthem. Trump later saidplayers should be suspended.

Dozens of players have taken a knee during the anthem to protest racial injustice. Kaepernick, now a free agent, has filed a grievance against team owners, alleging they colluded to keep him from being signed.

Times Square hotel selling bagel for $1,000

WQAD News -

This is no ordinary bagel –
it costs $1,000. (Westin)

MANHATTAN — Forget bagels with schmear and lox, a Times Square hotel is serving up a $1,000 bagel.

The Westin New York hotel’s extravagant bagel will feature Alba white truffle cream cheese, goji berry-infused Riesling jelly, and gold leaf flakes. This is not your humble New York City breakfast.

Westin first debuted the pricey breakfast in 2007, but the bagel only stayed on their menu for a few months. The bagel’s return a decade later will be limited. It will be available from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.

Gastronomes with a hankering for a bagel featuring some of the world’s rarest and most expensive ingredients — and with $1,000 to spare — must order their bagel 24 hours in advance.

All proceeds from the bagels will go to benefit Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. Don’t worry about tax or leaving a tip – those are included in the price.

The culinary minds at the Westin say the bagel may make an encore appearance during the next truffle season.

Illinois lottery manager projects $4B in sales

WQAD News -

CHICAGO (AP) — The new company hired to run the Illinois Lottery projects it will increase annual sales to $4 billion, generating more than $1 billion per year for schools and other projects by the end of the 10-year deal, according to a contract obtained by The Associated Press.

Lottery officials and Camelot Illinois are set to announce the contract Friday, more than three years after the state first tried to fire its current private manager for falling short of sales goals and other problems. Northstar Lottery Group will remain on the job until Camelot takes over on Jan 2.

Lottery proceeds are used to help fund education and construction projects. Sales for the most recent fiscal year were $2.85 billion, marking the second straight year total sales were basically flat, according to a state report published last month.

Camelot Illinois is subsidiary of Camelot Group, which runs the Great Britain national lottery. The company says its plan to increase sales includes investing $15 million on new, more prominent retail sales equipment and signage and improved online sales, with better marketing and technology such as a mobile app.

Acting Lottery Director Greg Smith said the new agreement incorporates “lessons learned” from the relationship with Northstar. For example, Camelot’s management fee will be reviewed and reconciled each year to reflect actual costs, a process that wasn’t part of Northstar’s initial agreement. Camelot’s management fee is estimated at $25 million in the first year. Northstar’s first-year fee was about $15 million.

Camelot will receive “incentive compensation” only if net lottery income — or sales minus expenses and payouts — exceeds a target amount outlined in the contract to be deposited annually into the state schools fund. That minimum target is $731 million in the first full year and $859 million in the final year, according to the contract, though Camelot projects the amount could reach $1 billion by the last few years of the contract.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016 — the most recent year for which audited data are available — $691 million was deposited into the schools fund.

Camelot’s incentive bonuses would be a percentage of the profit, ranging from 17 to 27 percent.

“The more we grow, the more we sell, the more state benefits and so do we,” said Neil Brocklehurst, Camelot managing director.

The company projects it will payout $23 billion in prizes over the life of the contract. The state has the right to terminate the deal if specific performance benchmarks aren’t met.

The deal was signed despite criticism from some lawmakers that the process wasn’t transparent enough. Details such as Camelot’s sales goals weren’t released during a public comment period.

Camelot will take over from a company that has had a rocky tenure, including going to arbitration with the state over how goals are set. A Chicago Tribune investigation also found the lottery didn’t award many of its largest prizes in some instant games.

In 2009, lawmakers voted to make Illinois the first state to privatize management of its lottery. Supporters said handing day-to-day operations over to an outside company would result in higher revenues, with annual contributions to the state schools fund expected to increase each year.

After taking over management in 2011, Northstar initially reported record sales but later fell short of its goals.

Then-Gov. Pat Quinn tried to fire Northstar Lottery Group in 2014 but Attorney General Lisa Madigan blocked the move in 2015, calling it a bad deal for taxpayers. Gov. Bruce Rauner announced a new termination agreement later that year. It stated Northstar should be replaced by Jan. 1, 2017. The state extended Northstar’s contract after missing that deadline.

Illinois’ budget crisis also caused problems for the lottery. Some winners sued to get their payments after the state said it couldn’t pay out, and Powerball and Mega Millions sales were temporarily halted this summer before lawmakers approved a state budget for the first time in more than two years.

The Eric Factor: I need your climate change input

WQAD News -

I am embarking on a long-term project that focuses on climate change and how we make our conclusions on it. In order to focus on what’s important, I need to understand where the public stands. The following poll will exist on our website for only one week. While I know it is unscientific, the poll will give a baseline to where our audience resides. There are no wrong answers and if you’re willing to discuss your thoughts in person or learn more, please let me know at the end. That will be a big part of this project.

Thank you so much!

Meteorologist Eric Sorensen

 

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How to see Uranus without a telescope as planet nears Earth

WQAD News -

WASHINGTON – Uranus will be visible without using a telescope on Thursday night.

NASA says the seventh planet from the sun will be clearly visible because it reaches opposition – which just means the planet is opposite the sun in our sky and at the closet point to Earth.

"It's visible all night long and its blue-green color is unmistakeable. It may be bright enough to see with your naked eye — and for sure in binoculars," according to NASA.

You’ll be able to find the blue-green planet by looking toward the southeast within the constellation Pisces, the fish, National Geographic reports.

Scientists say the planet should be brighter than the fainter stars around it.

NASA says Uranus will be visible all month long, but the best opportunities come up on Nov. 4 and Nov. 30.

Uranus has the third largest diameter in our solar system and is four times wider than Earth. In perspective, if Earth was the size of a nickel, Uranus would be about as big as a softball, according to NASA.

The next time Uranus will be in opposition will be on Oct. 23, 2018.

Ridgewood Spartans Create Unique Grand Finale For The Score Pre-Game Pep Rally Season

WQAD News -

CAMBRIDGE, Illinois - The Ridgewood Spartans know how to wake up a community!

On Friday, October 20th, the co-op of students and staff from Cambridge High School and AlWood High School came together early in the morning for Week 9 of The Score Pre-Game Pep Rally on Good Morning Quad Cities:

The Spartans are full of school spirit with a competitive, Spartan-like flair. Students, teachers, coaches, and staff competed in the first ever Ridgewood Warrior Competition by running through an obstacle course around the entire football field. They also created their own noise makers and tried them out for us live on the air:

The Ridgewood Boosters Club helped us pick the winners of our sign contest. There were around 30 entries, with plenty of prizes up for grabs:

We finished the morning like we always do, with the band and students taking us into another Friday full of football:

And just like that - another season of The Score Pre-Game Pep Rally is complete! If you want to see where we went this year and how each school and community brought their own unique spirit to their football field, click here.

Outdoor plans? Here’s when it will rain this weekend

WQAD News -

BBQ Alert is in effect today! That's because it's going to be mostly sunny with high temperatures in the 75-80 degree range. This evening will be warm for Friday Night Football. Look for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the 60s. We will have a wind out of the south 10-20 mph.

A few showers may dot the skies Saturday morning with most of the day ending up dry. Temperatures will be warm with highs in the middle 70s, even with plenty of cloud cover. Showers and a few rumbles are likely after midnight Saturday night, lasting through mid-morning Sunday.

So, most of the rain showers will dot the skies in the morning. Small chance on Saturday morning. Bigger chance Sunday morning. As far as Sunday temperatures? It will be a little cooler with highs in the 60s.

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen

Muscatine’s city administrator and council members react to open records request

WQAD News -

MUSCATINE, Iowa - City leaders in Muscatine have refused to answer our questions as the city council tries to oust the mayor.

WQAD News 8 continues to push for answers.

At the end of August News 8 asked how much the city billed or quoted prices to other media outlets when they requested documents regarding Mayor Diana Broderson.

This is the second request that News 8 sent to Muscatine City Administrator Gregg Mandsager, he has yet to respond.

Mandsager billed WQAD more than $1,200 to get documents reflecting the amount spent by the city to impeache the mayor, when we received them, they didn't say much of anything.

News 8 asked the city administrator and council members why the city is not being transparent about open records requests.

"WQAD's attorney and the city's attorney are corresponding to resolve that matter," said Gregg Mandsager, city administrator.

"I'll be happy to talk to them about it but at this point this is the first I've heard you're having an issue," said Tom Spread, third ward representative .

"Share that information with us and we can help you out because we're definitely not in a position to try and hide anything," said Santos Saucedo, at large representative.

"No comment," said Michael Rehwaldt, second ward representative.

"Not in a position to comment," said Allen Harvey, fifth ward representative.

"I'm not part of it so I really don't know what the stance is, why they're not, if they're not," said Scott Natvig, at large representative.

Our legal team has spoken to the city's attorney and the city is still not releasing the documents.

Below is the full attempt to get answers.

Senate backs GOP budget in step forward for tax revamp

WQAD News -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans on Thursday muscled a $4 trillion budget through the Senate in a major step forward for President Donald Trump's ambitious promise of "massive tax cuts and reform."

The 51-49 vote sets the stage for debate later this year to dramatically overhaul the U.S. tax code for the first time in three decades, cutting rates for individuals and corporations while eliminating trillions of dollars of deductions and special interest tax breaks.

The tax cuts would add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the coming decade, however, as Republicans have shelved fears about the growing budget deficit in favor of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rewrite tax laws.

"These are reforms that change incentives and drive growth, and we've never done that before," said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

Divisions within the GOP indicate the process won't be easy despite the political imperative.

The upcoming tax measure, always a top item on the GOP agenda, has taken on even greater urgency with the failure of the party to carry out its longstanding promise to dismantle former President Barack Obama's signature health care law. Republicans have said failure on taxes would be politically devastating in next year's midterm elections, when control of the House and Senate are at stake.

When reconciled with the House budget plan, the nonbinding measure would set up special procedures to pass follow-up tax legislation without the threat of a filibuster by Senate Democrats. Pressure is mounting, however, on the House to simply adopt the Senate budget plan rather than risk lengthy negotiations that could delay the tax measure.

The House measure calls for a tax plan that wouldn't add to the deficit, as well as $200 billion worth of cuts to benefit programs that the Senate has rejected.

Democrats blasted the GOP budget, warning voters that the upcoming tax measure will shower benefits on top-bracket earners, corporations, business partnerships and people inheriting multimillion-dollar estates. Trump promises that the tax plan — still under development — is aimed at the middle class, but previous versions have seen upper-income individuals benefiting the most.

"Unfortunately, there's a big gap between the administration's rhetoric on these issues and the reality of what is on paper," said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the tax-writing Finance Committee, who warned that Trump's plan is "slanted overwhelmingly toward the very top."

"The more people learn about this tax bill, the less they will like it," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "That's what led to the demise of health care, ultimately, is that it was unpopular with the American people."

Only one Republican, Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted against the budget. He said the measure permits too much spending and abandons the GOP drive to repeal the Obama health law. An amendment by Paul to revive the "Obamacare" repeal failed by a 2-to-1 margin.

Under Capitol Hill's byzantine budget rules, the nonbinding budget resolution is supposed to lay out a long-term fiscal framework for the government. This year's measure calls for $473 billion in cuts from Medicare over 10 years and more than $1 trillion from Medicaid. All told, Senate Republicans would cut spending by more than $5 trillion over a decade, though they don't attempt to spell out where the cuts would come from.

Even so, the measure doesn't promise to balance the budget, projecting deficits that would never drop below $400 billion.

Republicans have no plans to carry out the measure's politically toxic proposals to cut Medicare, food and farm programs, housing subsidies and transportation. Instead, work is under way to add tens of billions of dollars for both the Pentagon and domestic agency operations. And the Senate is poised to send Trump a $36.5 billion hurricane relief bill Monday.

The budget measure also would revive long-moribund efforts to permit exploration for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, permitting legislation opening up ANWR to drilling to catch a ride on the popular tax measure. Otherwise, it would be vulnerable to a filibuster by Democrats.

Police investigate two alleged sexual assaults at Iowa State University

WQAD News -

AMES, Iowa -- Police at Iowa State University are investigation two alleged sexual assaults.

One victim says she was assaulted last year, while the other says the assault happened Sunday in Linden Hall.

Both attackers have said their attackers were acquaintances but police say it's part of a larger problem. According to officials, there have been five reported sexual assaults this year, two more than were reported last year.

Police ask any victims to come forward but they also encourage them to seek out the campus abuse counselors if they need someone to speak to.

 

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