Cash strapped Greece freezes civil service pay

Greece’s prime minister toughened his austerity program Tuesday to include a blanket civil service pay freeze, as the European Union readied plans to tightly monitor Athens’ performance and possibly demand even more cutbacks.

In a live televised address, George Papandreou said he would also hike fuel taxes, increase retirement ages and speed up an overhaul of the country’s tax system, which will be presented in Parliament next week instead of at the end of the month.

“This is an effort to stop the country’s course toward the cliff,” Papandreou said. “Our country is at the center of a speculative attack. … [Read the full article]

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Some Tennessee lawmakers say they’re concerned about how their constituents will react to a state revenue proposal that includes taxing cable TV and hiking driver’s license fees for the first time in more than 20 years.

The measure is expected to generate more than $70 million, as part of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s $28.41 billion budget proposal unveiled in his State of the State address this week.

Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz fielded questions Tuesday from lawmakers about the revenue component and the governor’s overall budget plan.

The revenue proposal includes equalizing the sales tax on cable and satellite use and taxing cable boxes. The driver’s license fee increase — from $19.50 for five years to $46 for eight years — would be the first hike since 1988.

Democratic Sen. [Read the full article]

President Barack Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget outline drew bipartisan fire on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, with Republicans complaining it doesn’t address deficits soon enough and raises taxes too much. Democrats balked at some of Obama’s spending cuts.

It was a rocky reception for the day-old document, underscoring election-year restlessness and rising public anger at bailouts, bonuses and ballooning deficits. The complaints across party lines suggested it could be difficult for Obama to win support for key parts of his budget, even from members of his own party.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., called Obama’s proposal to cancel NASA’s manned moon return program shortsighted. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., derided his proposal to include Army Corps projects in a proposed partial three-year spending freeze. Sen. [Read the full article]

A proposed New Mexico budget calls for spending $5.6 billion next year on education and government services, but it requires tax increases and extra federal aid to balance the plan.

The proposed spending of state and federal money is about 1 percent, or $82 million, below this year’s budget.

The measure relies on $203 million in extra federal aid next year, some of which has yet to be approved by Congress.

The budget also leaves a hole to be plugged with $300 million in new state revenues from tax increases.

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The Appropriations and Finance Committee approved the budget on Tuesday on a party-line vote, with Republicans opposing it and Democrats in support.

The bill allocates almost $2.5 billion for public schools, the Public Education Department and other educational programs, such as pre-kindergarten. That’s not quite 1 percent less than current spending. [Read the full article]

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