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AROUND THE STATE

Mayor cites reform of pensions as priority

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg warned in his State of the City address Wednesday that New York still faces deep budget problems and can no longer afford to pay generous pension benefits to government workers.

In his speech on Staten Island, Bloomberg said reform of the city's pension system will be his administration's No. 1 priority in Albany in the weeks ahead.

The mayor said he wants to raise the retirement age to 65 for non-uniformed workers. The change, which would apply only to new hires, would save billions of dollars over the long term, Bloomberg said.

He said the city would ask state lawmakers to change the law to allow the city to negotiate pension benefits directly with the unions during collective bargaining.

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Beach body identified as missing escort

YAPHANK (AP) -- One of four women whose bodies were found dumped along a deserted stretch of Long Island beach highway last month has been identified as a missing craigslist escort from Maine, and New York authorities said Wednesday they were close to identifying the other three bodies.

"Progress is being made" Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said of the mystery that began to unfold Dec. 11 when police found the first of the bodies just steps from Ocean Parkway, a narrow strip of highway that leads to Jones Beach State Park.

The other three bodies, including that of the missing Maine woman, were found two days later during a follow-up investigation. Authorities identified the remains as that of Megan Waterman, 22, of Scarborough, Maine.

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