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County 8-27

Due to the recession, fewer people can afford their child support payments, and authorities are increasingly finding the money by tapping unemployment insurance rather than garnishing wages. So explained Carrie Topliffe, the county’s Child Support Services director, who said that while only 2 percent of payments came from unemployment in 2006-07, that number jumped to 5.4 percent this fiscal year, which amounts to $40 million less in payment from wages. What affects child support beneficiaries more, however, is that Child Support’s inability to collect payments-which average about $318 per month-increased by 1,200 cases over 2007.

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On a quest to update and improve the state’s FAIR Plan, which serves as a homeowner insurance last resort for people who can’t get deals through private insurers, Insurance Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner visited town for the third time in 2009 to listen to concerns. He faced many of them, coming from dozens of frustrated people who recently lost a home in Santa Barbara due to fire. Many expressed frustration at not understanding exactly what their very basic plan actually covers, as well as difficulty getting access to their full policy after their house burned.

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