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KANSAS REVENUES

Kansas revenue chief expects boost in projections

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan says he expects a new fiscal forecast to be more optimistic about state revenues through June 2015.

Jordan made his comments Thursday just before he and other state officials began drafting a new fiscal forecast to guide legislators and Gov. Sam Brownback in budget decisions.

The new forecast will revise earlier revenue projections of $5.9 billion in state revenues, both for the current fiscal year and for the fiscal year beginning in July.

Since July 2013, the state has collected $141 million more than anticipated, or 3.6 percent more than the official forecast.

But total revenues are running 5.6 percent behind collections from the previous fiscal year because of income tax cuts championed by Brownback.

KANSAS UNEMPLOYMENT

Kansas unemployment unchanged in March

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Unemployment held steady in Kansas during March, staying at a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.9 percent in March, the same as in February.

The Kansas Department of Labor says Thursday that the rate compares with 5.5 percent from March 2013.

Labor officials say that Kansas added 2,200 private-sector jobs in March and more than 17,000 in the past 12 months. Secretary Lana Gordon says the state has gained more than 50,000 private-sector jobs since January 2011.

Economist Tyler Tenbrink says the increase in the number of hours worked weekly as well as hourly earnings suggested employers are hiring more workers to respond to increased demand for goods and services.

The agency also says first-time benefit claims fell in March to 9,669.

BANKERS SURVEY

Overall index up in rural Midwest banker survey

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The overall index for an economic survey of bankers in 10 Midwestern and Plains states has risen for a second consecutive month, suggesting more growth in the months ahead.

The Rural Mainstreet Index hit 53.2 in April, compared with 50.1 in March.

The survey indexes range from 0 to 100, with 50 representing growth neutral. A score above 50 suggests growth in the months ahead.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the results indicate that areas highly dependent on agriculture and energy are experiencing slower growth than they were a year ago. But he says recent increases in commodity prices should boost the economy in the months ahead.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

MICHELLE OBAMA-TOPEKA VISIT

First lady to speak at Topeka schools' graduation

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Michelle Obama plans to give the commencement address for the graduation ceremony for Topeka's high schools on May 17.

The White House announced the first lady's plans Thursday. The date of the ceremony is the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic Brown v. Board of Education decision that declared school segregation unconstitutional.

One of the lawsuits leading to the decision originated in Topeka, and the city is home to a national historic site centered on the ruling.

The graduation is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 17 at the Kansas Expocentre.

The Topeka school district normally schedules separate graduation ceremonies for its three high schools, alternative school and charter school but is combining them because of the first lady's address. The district expects 800 seniors to receive their diplomas.

SALINA SCHOOLS-THREAT

Note leads to police increase at 2 Salina schools

(Information in the following story is from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, http://www.salina.com)

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Security has been beefed up at two Salina high schools after a staff member at one of the schools found a note indicating there would be violence there.

The Salina Journal reports the vaguely threatening note was found Tuesday by a staff member at Salina Central High School. The next day a cellphone that appeared to have been shot with a firearm was found in a school office.

Security measures include increasing the number of police officers at the school and monitoring access to the building. Salina police spokesman Capt. Mike Sweeney says police presence at South High School also has been increased.

A spokeswoman for the school district declined to provide any specifics about the threat.

65-MILE CHASE

Kansas patrol led on 65-mile chase on interstate

(Information in the following story is from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com)

ABILENE, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Highway Patrol says troopers were led on a 65-mile chase on the interstate before the driver was arrested.

The patrol says the chase began early Thursday after troopers tried to stop a van that was speeding on westbound Interstate 70 near Solomon in Dickinson County.

The pursuit continued into Russell County, where troopers were able to stop the van about five miles west of the Wilson exit.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports the van was believed to be stolen. The driver was arrested after being subdued with a stun gun.

No injuries were reported.

PARADE TRADITION-CHARGE

Charge dropped in Kansas street painting caper

(Information in the following story is from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com)

TONGANOXIE, Kan. (AP) - A northeast Kansas prankster won't be facing any penalties for painting a green line down a local street as part of a St. Patrick's tradition that goes back decades.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports a criminal damage charge against Tonganoxie resident Charlie "Tuna" Conrad has been thrown out. Conrad was painting a green line down Fourth Street early March 15 when an officer stopped him and issued the citation.

Conrad had been scheduled to appear in municipal court on Wednesday, but City Attorney Mike Kelly said the charge had been dropped at his discretion.

Various people have filled the role of "leprechauns" and painted the green line each year since the late John McCaffrey started the parade - and green line tradition - in the late 1980s.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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