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Headlines for Saturday, February 28, 2015

Kansas Tax Collections $22M More than Expected in February

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas collected $22 million more in taxes than expected this month.  The Department of Revenue reported yesterday (FRI) that the state collected almost $310 million in taxes in February, when it anticipated taking in $287 million. The surplus is 7.7 percent. The numbers are good news for Republican Governor Sam Brownback and legislators, but they don't solve the state's budget problems. Officials must close a budget shortfall that had been projected at nearly $600 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1st. Tax collections for the current fiscal year, starting in July 2014, still remain behind expectations, after falling short in December and January. During those eight months, the state collected $3.55 billion in taxes, when it expected $3.6 billion. The difference is $37 million, about 1 percent.


Prosecutor: Fake Bomb Irrelevant to Charges

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Prosecutors say charges against a man accused of trying to blow up the Wichita airport should not be thrown out, even though the explosives used in an undercover sting were fake. Terry Loewen was arrested in December 2013 when the former avionics technician tried to bring a van filled with inert explosives onto the tarmac at Mid-Continent Airport. Loewen has pleaded not guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in a suicide plot, and other charges. His attorneys contend that because the bomb would not explode, it did not meet the legal definition of a "destructive device." But the government countered yesterday (FRI) that it would "eviscerate" undercover operations if it could not probe the willingness of a self-described terrorist to detonate a bomb at an airport.


Pittsburg, Pittsburg State Swap Land

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) — Pittsburg State University and the city of Pittsburg have agreed to swap land in a deal designed to help both entities expand. The trade was ratified Tuesday by the City Commission but must be approved by the Kansas Legislature. The Joplin Globe reports the university agreed to give 72 acres to the city, which wants to use it for home building. In return, the city will give Pittsburg State one 25-acre site and another 5-acre site. City manager Daron Hall says the trade does not involve any money. Hall says the city badly needs new housing developments. University official Chris Kelly says the university has no immediate plans for its new land but it will be available for future development.


Nebraska Judge Sentences KC Man in Scam

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Lincoln judge has sentenced a Kansas man to nine years in prison for a scam he conducted that targeted elderly people. U.S District Judge John Gerrard yesterday (FRI) ordered 53-year-old Thomas Whitlow of Kansas City to pay $17,521 in restitution in addition to his prison sentence. Jurors found Whitlow guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud in November. Prosecutors say Whitlow had his wife scour online obituaries and search for phone numbers of the relatives of the dead. Authorities say he then called, claiming to be a family member in need of cash, and had the money wired to him on at least 12 occasions. The Lincoln Journal Star reports that Whitlow has denied involvement in the scam. He says he plans to appeal the ruling.


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