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Jobless agency to pare down debt

COLUMBIA — South Caro­lina’s unemployment agency is paying down $106.5 million of its debt to the federal government, leaving a remaining debt of $676 million.

Director Abraham Tur­ner says the agency is on track to pay back every dime by October 2015. Business leaders hope the timeline will be shorter, saving employers money because of new state laws that mean fewer people are receiving benefits.

The payment today will be two months ahead of schedule, saving the state $8,800 daily in interest, according to the Department of Employment and Work­force.

The agency had to borrow nearly $1 billion from the federal government between December 2008 and spring 2011 to keep sending checks amid climbing jobless rates. Management problems also contributed to the depleted trust fund.

36 candidates on ballots via petition

COLUMBIA — Three dozen legislative candidates kicked off primary ballots this year will be on the Novem­ber ballots as petition candidates.

The state Election Commission certified 36 petition candidates for House and Senate seats as the verification process ended Wednesday.

The unprecedented number stems from a state Supreme Court decision in May on improperly filed paperwork. That decision, plus a follow-up ruling weeks later, booted nearly 250 candidates statewide from June 12 primary ballots.

For the decertified candidates, getting on the ballot with “petition” beside their names represented their only option. The process required collecting signatures from at least 5 percent of a district’s registered voters.

Operation Lost Vote, a loosely organized group of tea party activists, plans to run a statewide campaign to dissuade people from voting a straight-party ballot – the biggest obstacle to petition candidates. Anyone who votes solely along a party line would bypass them completely.

Not all petition candidates were tossed from primary ballots. Rep. Tom Young, R-Aiken, is his party’s nominee and faces no Democratic opposition to replace retiring Sen. Greg Ryberg. He said he collected signatures just in case some future court decision knocked him off before the November election.


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