LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A legislative panel has voted to gradually cut Michigan's income tax from 4.25 percent to 3.9 percent within three years. The 5-2 vote Wednesday from the Senate Finance Committee is the first since lawmakers were informed of a projected $1 billion budget surplus. But it may be months before a plan wins final approval because while legislators definitely want to provide tax relief this year, there's no consensus on how. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder hasn't committed to a permanent income tax reduction and is expected to outline his own proposal next week. Republicans controlling the committee voted for the tax cut, saying the economy does better when more money's in the hands of taxpayers. Democrats opposed the bill, saying income tax cuts have no discernible impact on economic growth.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - An effort is underway to raise Michigan's minimum wage with a ballot initiative in November. Groups on Monday created the Raise Michigan ballot committee to explore hiking the minimum wage. But committee treasurer Frank Houston says it's "highly likely" the groups will commence with gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to qualify for the ballot. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder and majority Republican lawmakers haven't embraced Democratic legislation to raise the $7.40 an hour wage to $10. Houston says he expects Michigan will be the "No. 1 place" in the country for a debate over economic dignity and inequality. Michigan's minimum wage last went up in 2008 and is slightly higher than the $7.25 federal minimum wage.
NEW YORK (AP) - Starbucks was never exactly known for its croissants - or any of the baked goods, for that matter. But now the company is seeing promising signs for its revamped lineup of sweets, which has made its way to about a third of its U.S. cafes. Starbucks' Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead said Thursday that croissant sales have doubled wherever the new recipes have been introduced. The changes started back in 2012, after Starbucks acquired La Boulange, a small bakery chain in the San Francisco Bay area. Starbucks saw it as an opportunity to improve the image of its baked goods - and significantly boost sales. The idea: Get more people to add a croissant or lemon loaf to their purchase whenever they stop in for a latte.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Treasury Department says it will auction a new Treasury security with variable interest rates next week. It will be the first new Treasury security offered in 17 years. Treasury says it will auction $15 billion of the new floating rate notes on Jan. 29. The two-year security will have an interest rate that resets every day. Mary Miller, Treasury's undersecretary for domestic finance, said the new debt product should attract new investors and the increased demand will help hold down the government's cost in financing its rising debt. Treasury said it expected to offer the floating rate securities at quarterly auctions to be held in January, April, July and October. It is the first new Treasury debt product since Treasury inflation protected securities were first auctioned in 1997.
NEW HAVEN, Mich. (AP) - Plans for a new landfill in Michigan that drew heated opposition aren't expected to move forward at this time. Rizzo Environmental Services last year said it wanted to open the landfill in the New Haven area of Macomb County, about 30 miles northeast of Detroit. Company spokesman Joseph Munem tells the Detroit Free Press, however, that the company currently isn't proposing any landfills in Macomb County. Rizzo proposed a landfill called Clinton Valley Farms adjacent to an existing landfill operated by another company. People expressed concerns about pollution, noise and truck traffic. The landfill issue prompted a recall election set for May of four New Haven officials. Company officials had tried to ease concerns, noting that the landfill would be built in a way to protect the environment.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Time magazine says White Castle's small, square "sliders" are "the most influential burger of all time." The magazine notes the "now-iconic square patty" that debuted in 1921 in Wichita, Kan. was the first burger to spawn a fast-food empire. White Castle has been based in Columbus since 1934. The Time story - http://ti.me/1eWFs19 - puts the White Castle burger at the top of the list of the 17 most influential burgers of all time, beating out burgers from McDonald's and In-N-Out. White Castle vice president Jamie Richardson tells The Columbus Dispatch that "slider" has been a term of endearment for the delectable little burgers since the 1950s.
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. home construction slowed in December but ended 2013 with the best showing since the housing bubble burst. The Commerce Department says builders broke ground last month at a seasonally annual rate of 999,000. That's 9.8 percent lower than November pace of 1.12 million, which was the fastest in five years. For the year, builders started 923,000 homes and apartments, up 18.3 percent from 2012. It was the fourth straight annual gain and the strongest since 2007, when 1.36 million homes were started. The housing market has been recovering steadily over the past year, helping boost economic growth at create jobs. For December, the drop reflected declines in single-family homes and apartments.
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. employers advertised more jobs in November and more Americans quit, positive signs for millions who are unemployed and looking for work. The Labor Department says job openings rose 1.8 percent to 4 million, the most in 5 1/2 years. And the number of people quitting increased 1.9 percent to 2.4 million, a five-year high. More job openings and quits suggest greater opportunities for the unemployed. But those positive trends haven't recently translated into additional hiring. Overall hiring ticked up just 0.2 percent to nearly 4.5 million. The figures also follow a disappointing report on December job growth. The government last week said employers added just 74,000 jobs in December. That's the fewest in three years and below an average gain of 214,000 in the previous three months.
NEW YORK (AP) - The January gold contract on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed today at $1240.00 an ounce -- up $1.90. The current silver contract on the "NYMEX" closed at $20.02 an ounce -- down 8 cents. Crude oil futures prices ended lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The near-month contract for the benchmark grade fell 21 cents -- closing at $93.96 a barrel. The U.S. dollar is mixed against other North American currencies in New York trading. It's worth 1.09 Canadian dollars, down from late Wednesday. And the dollar is trading at 13.26 Mexican pesos, up from late Wednesday.
(PORT HURON) -- Automotive supplier and manufacturer U.S. Farathane has purchased the former JCIM manufacturing plant in Port Huron's Industrial Park, retaining 300 current employees with plans to add 65 new jobs. U.S. Farathane, which specializes in the design and manufacturing of molded plastic car parts, will lease the plant on Petit Street in Port Huron and invest millions of dollars in new equipment. The company has ten locations in the U.S. The hiring process has already started at the Port Huron location.