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  #481  
Old 05-12-2017, 04:31 PM
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http://nprillinois.org/post/grand-ba...ncede#stream/0

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On 'Grand Bargain,' Senate Democrats Say They've Nothing Left To Concede

There was another setback Wednesday for efforts to end Illinois' budget stalemate.

Senate Democrats attempted a series of test votes on items in the so-called “grand bargain.” But Republicans refused to go along, saying more negotiation is needed to reach a deal they can support.

Senate President John Cullerton says his Democrats have gone as far as they can go in meeting Governor Bruce Rauner’s non-budget demands.

He says Rauner and his team “don’t know how to govern.”

“At some point in time, you have to just agree: ‘OK, let’s make a deal,’" Cullerton said. “And you have to understand the other side and understand how far they can go. And what’s at stake here is a disaster, after the next 20 days, if we don’t have any revenue.”

The Senate Republican Leader, Christine Radogno, says she thinks negotiations should continue.

She says the two sides are close to an agreement on the remaining issues, which include freezing property taxes and changing the system through which people injured on the job are compensated.

Time is running out — this year’s legislative session is scheduled to end May 31st.
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  #482  
Old 05-12-2017, 04:32 PM
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https://www.illinoispolicy.org/grand...isans/#new_tab

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‘GRAND BARGAIN’ REDUX: BRADY PLAN THE NEXT IN A LONG LIST OF FAILED ‘COMPROMISES’ FOR ILLINOISANS

State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, has proposed what he hopes may be the big “compromise” to end Illinois’ budget impasse.

But Illinoisans should realize what’s really going on.

Brady is offering some new promises to cut spending, but only so he can mask his request for billions in taxes and fees. How much is an open question.

Brady claims he wants $5 billion in new revenues, but he’s also said his proposal acts as a supplement to the Senate’s proposed “grand bargain,” which calls for $7 billion in new taxes and fees.

For months politicians have been pushing a narrative that a multibillion-dollar tax hike alone is enough to fix Illinois’ budget gap. But after failing to get a tax-hike-only plan passed, they’ve moved to the “compromise” position. By offering some spending cuts, they’re hoping their deal will appeal to the political class in Springfield.

For politicians, it’s the perfect compromise. Lawmakers get what they need for their campaign stump speeches, the status quo is preserved, and special interest groups are appeased. But struggling taxpayers are left behind, and will get hit yet again as they try to get by in a dysfunctional Illinois.

Illinoisans don’t need, nor can they afford, that kind of compromise. Every one of Illinois politicians’ past compromises – from former Gov. Jim Edgar’s pension ramp to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s pension bonds to former Gov. Pat Quinn’s temporary tax hike – has something in common: They all avoided fixing Illinois’ structural spending problems by sending the bill to taxpayers instead.

......
Brady’s plan is built on tax hikes – but more revenue is never enough

In March, Brady said his proposal acts as a supplement to the original grand bargain’s revenue proposals.

That plan calls for nearly $7 billion in tax hikes and fees, much of which is contained in Senate Bill 9, the core tax hike bill. This is the proposal that would slap a new tax on things like Netflix, lawn services, laundry services and more. The details of the grand bargain revenues are:

$5.4 billion of income tax hikes (SB 9).
Approximately $300 million through an expansion of the state’s sales tax to certain services (SB 9).
Casino expansion fees, which could bring up to $1 billion in revenues (Senate Bill 7). (Brady has said he’s open to including casino expansion fees in his proposal.)
Brady also may rely on $200 million in revenues from the sale of the Thompson Center.

.....
Brady’s proposed cuts don’t add up to $5 billion in savings

Brady claims his own proposal “includes more than $5 billion in general revenue fund spending cuts, adjustments and cost savings, including 5 percent across-the-board cuts for most of state government outside elementary and secondary education.”

But not all of that can be found in the seven bills he’s filed, because his plan also relies on other proposals in the grand bargain, including pension reform.

An Illinois Policy Institute review of the senator’s bills and other parts of the grand bargain communicated in Brady’s spending proposal found only $3.8 billion in savings, at best. And even then, some of those savings are unlikely or unreliable over the long term.

The grand bargain reportedly has $1.3 billion in pension savings, relying largely on the consideration plan proposed by Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and a new hybrid retirement plan for new employees. Not only has no fiscal analysis of this hybrid pension plan been made public, but it is also likely that any plan based on the Cullerton consideration model will be found unconstitutional. A crucial defect in the plan is that it perpetuates pensions, despite the damage pensions have done to the wallets of taxpayers, the retirement security of state workers, and the programs that assist Illinois’ most vulnerable. Keeping pensions alive will prevent Illinois from ever having fully stabilized finances, because pension costs are inherently unpredictable and unmanageable.
There is also reportedly $800 million in across-the-board department cost reductions and $500 million in procurement reform. Much of that is simply spending cuts, which aren’t equal to reform. The grand bargain cuts the level of spending, but it doesn’t slow spending growth – which is what really matters.
The plan also reportedly includes $435 million in reduced health insurance costs, approximately $250 million in interest cost savings from refinancing expensive unpaid bills with lower-cost bonds, $260 million in cuts to higher education, and a $255 million reduction in grants to local governments.
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  #483  
Old 05-12-2017, 04:33 PM
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http://www.reuters.com/article/illin...1ID00G#new_tab

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Fear of junk bond ratings hangs over Illinois budget crisis

May 11 Illinois faces costly consequences if it fails to pass a budget by the end of May and is hit with more credit rating downgrades, state lawmakers were warned this week.

John Miller, co-head of fixed income at Nuveen Asset Management, told a House committee on Thursday that reaching a balanced budget deal by May 31 is "absolutely critical" for the nation's fifth-largest state.

He said the move could stabilize or improve Illinois' triple-B credit ratings, which are two notches above junk and the lowest among U.S. states. Without a budget agreement, Illinois risks falling into junk, where the pool of investors willing or able to purchase its debt is much smaller, he added.

Miller said contagion from Illinois' shaky credit standing has spread to other municipal bond issuers in the state, resulting in an extra $930 million in annual debt service paid statewide.

Illinois is limping toward the June 30 end of a second straight fiscal year without a complete budget, something no state has ever done, due to an impasse between its Republican governor and Democrats who control the legislature.

As a result, its pile of unpaid bills, a barometer of the state's structural deficit, has topped $13 billion. Major rating agencies, which have pushed Illinois down the credit scale six times since Governor Bruce Rauner took office in January 2015, have signaled more downgrades are possible.
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  #484  
Old 05-12-2017, 04:35 PM
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http://nprillinois.org/post/illinois...ntasy#stream/0

Quote:
Illinois Issues: Fiscal Fantasy

“Let’s get a truly balanced budget ... ” Gov. Bruce Rauner and his aides, in various venues on numerous occasions, 2015-present.

Not to downplay the governor’s mantra, but what exactly is a “truly balanced budget?”

.....
The same questions can be asked about the state's finances: just add six zeroes at the end of each number. The traditional measure of a balanced state budget has started with the money in general funds, the state’s main checking account, on June 30, the end of the fiscal year. If the available balance is enough to pay all the outstanding bills over the next two months with some left over, the state has a budgetary surplus. If the balance won’t cover everything, what’s left is the budgetary deficit, the typical case in recent years. Illinois hasn’t enjoyed a budgetary surplus since Fiscal Year 2001, which came out $300 million to the good. Since then, it’s been red ink after red ink, most recently a $3.5 billion deficit for FY 2016. So by this measure, to achieve a balanced budget for the current fiscal year, Illinois would have to take in whatever’s needed to pay FY 2017 expenses plus an additional $3.5 billion to fill the FY 2016 hole. Making matters worse, the state already has a huge backlog of bills — $12.4 billion by the latest count from the comptroller — so the chances of achieving a “truly balanced budget” this year is about as likely as the Chicago Cubs winning the Stanley Cup.

The task doesn’t get any easier in crafting a budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, because the FY 2017 deficit is expected to be even larger, with estimates varying from $14.5 billion by The Civic Federation to $5.7 billion, according to Rauner's budget office.

At the same time, as introduced, Rauner's FY18 budget proposal is roughly $7.2 billion out of balance, despite the governor's claims to the contrary. Ironically, his online budget documents provide the proof — a financial walk down page shows general funds outlays pegged at $39.7 billion against estimated revenues of $32.5 billion, based on current autopilot spending levels and existing statutes.
.....
That’s theoretically possible — spending could be cut by one-third, for example, saving $10 billion or so, and income and sales tax rates could be raised by 40 percent to bring in another $10 billion — and voila! a “truly balanced” budget. In the real world, however, such deep cuts would impact voter-popular programs like education and health care, and a 5.25 percent personal income tax wouldn’t win favor with constituents, either.

Perhaps the time has come to move away from the fantasy rhetoric and consider a modified “balanced budget” approach. Instead of trying to close the gap in a single budget year, why not make the task a multi-year effort, spending less than revenues over several years, with the surplus each year reducing the deficit, akin to the consumer who pays more than the minimum each month to reduce the credit card balance?
.....
In fact, Illinois has followed the multi-year path in the past. As noted above, the last budgetary surplus under the traditional yardstick was $300 million in FY 2001. But revenues plummeted the following year due in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, leading to a deficit of $1.2 billion for FY 2002. In succeeding years, spending was held below revenues, so that by FY 2007 the red ink was just $135 million. Then the Great Recession hit tax collections hard, and the deficit soared to a record $6.1 billion in FY 2010. Aided by the temporary income tax increase in 2011, receipts generally outpaced spending for the next few years, bringing the deficit down to $2.9 billion for FY 2015. But the higher income tax rates rolled back in mid-year, and the deficit began to The Fiscal Futures Project climb again.
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  #485  
Old 05-12-2017, 05:23 PM
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How much dumber did I just get from reading that article? Was going to ask how they came up with "enough in the checking account to pay two months of bills means you have a surplus", but it got a lot worse after that.
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  #486  
Old 05-12-2017, 05:25 PM
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You are now 6 dumber.
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  #487  
Old 05-20-2017, 06:32 PM
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http://www.reuters.com/article/us-il...18D1T1#new_tab

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Illinois' unpaid bills reach record $14.3 billion

Illinois' unpaid bill backlog has hit a record high of $14.3 billion as the legislature nears a May 31 budget deadline, the state comptroller's office said on Wednesday.

The bill pile jumped from $13.3 billion after the governor's budget office this week reported more than $1 billion in liabilities held at state agencies, the comptroller said.

Illinois is limping toward the June 30 end of its second straight fiscal year without a complete budget due to an impasse between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the legislature.

“It’s clear the Rauner Administration has been holding bills at state agencies in an attempt to mask some of the damage caused by the governor’s failure to fulfill his constitutional duty and present a balanced budget," Comptroller Susana Mendoza, a Democrat, said in a statement, adding that the governor's office was keeping lawmakers in the dark about the true size of the backlog.

.....
Lawmakers face a May 31 deadline to pass budget bills with simple-majority votes. The Senate on Wednesday passed pieces of a long-awaited package to stabilize state finances, including budgets for the current and upcoming fiscal years, authorization to borrow $7 billion to pay down the bill backlog and an overhaul to state pensions.
.....
The busy legislative day also included Senate passage of a gambling-expansion bill authorizing a Chicago-owned casino and a school funding revamp that allocates $215 million to help Chicago’s cash-strapped schools pay teacher pensions this year.

Rauner's office rejected the school bill, but did not immediately comment on the other legislation.



https://www.illinoispolicy.org/illin...14-3b/#new_tab

Quote:
ILLINOIS’ UNPAID BILLS JUMP TO $14.3B

New numbers from the Illinois comptroller’s office show that Illinois’ unpaid bill backlog has climbed to more than $14 billion. In August 2016, Moody’s Investors Service predicted Illinois’ bill backlog would reach $14 billion by summer 2017.
Illinois’ unpaid bill backlog has increased to $14.3 billion from a previous balance of $13.3 billion. The Illinois comptroller’s office announced the staggering $1 billion jump in unpaid bills in a May 17 press release.

In August 2016, analysts from Moody’s Investors Service, a prominent credit rating agency, predicted Illinois’ stack of unpaid bills would reach $14 billion by summer 2017.

In March, Moody’s warned that Illinois’ ongoing budget gridlock and failure to pay its bills could lead to further credit downgrades, which could result in Illinois becoming the first “junk”-rated state in the nation.

Illinois’ mounting pile of unpaid bills reveals that the state continues to spend money faster than it takes it in.

Many Springfield politicians think a tax hike would solve this problem. But more tax revenue would just paper over the state’s spending problem.

“Grand bargain” 2.0 offers no spending reforms

Recent tax hike proposals coming out of Springfield prove lawmakers learned nothing from the 2011 income tax hikes, which were unaccompanied by real spending reform.

State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, has introduced a new proposal to supplement the “grand bargain” budget deal. Brady’s plan calls for retaining the grand bargain tax hikes, which include an income tax increase and an expansion of the sales tax that would be expected to bring in $5.4 billion and $300 million in tax revenue, respectively, as well as casino expansion fees, which would bring in an estimated $1 billion.

Brady’s plan may also rely on revenue gathered from the sale of the Thompson Center, estimated at $200 million.

Last edited by campbell; 05-20-2017 at 07:36 PM..
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  #488  
Old 05-20-2017, 06:54 PM
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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...-amid-fighting

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Photographer: Seth Perlman/AP Photo
Illinois Punished by Market as Deadline Nears Amid Fighting

State’s yields rise to record over benchmark amid gridlock
Less than two weeks remain in regular legislative session
With less than two weeks left in the regular legislative session, Illinois lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner are still divided on how to end the worst-rated state’s nearly three-year budget impasse. Investors aren’t pleased.

Bondholders are demanding yields of 4.49 percent on Illinois’s 10-year bonds, some 2.45 percentage points more than those of benchmark tax-exempt debt. That’s the biggest gap since the Bloomberg indexes began in January 2013.

After May 31, a three-fifths majority will be required to pass anything, making a deal even more difficult to reach. Senate Democrats advanced several bills that had been considered part of a bi-partisan compromise on Wednesday, but they were unable to pass a spending plan for lack of Republican support.

“We’re two weeks away from the 31st and that’s the deadline that’s set,” said Dennis Derby, a money manager in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, at Wells Fargo Asset Management, which holds Illinois bonds among its $40 billion of municipal debt. “They’ve had substantial time to work on this. So far we haven’t seen any substantial progress.”

Lawmakers are continuing to push forward legislation in an effort to resolve the stalemate by the end of the month. The unprecedented impasse has left the state without a full-year spending plan since July 2015 as Rauner, the first Republican to lead the state since 2003, and the Democrat-led legislature can’t agree on how to plug chronic budget deficits. The gap worsened after temporary income tax hikes expired in January 2015. The gridlock has sunk Illinois’s credit rating and forced state-supported entities like public universities and social service providers to slash programs and furlough workers.

Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings have warned that the state’s credit could deteriorate further if it enters a third year without a budget. The rating companies rate Illinois Baa2 and BBB, respectively, which is two levels above junk. Both have a negative outlook on Illinois.

Rauner has called for any spending plan to be tied to structural changes like a property tax-freeze and an overhaul of workers-compensation practices. Without a budget in place, the state is still spending money through consent decrees, court orders and continuing appropriations. Its current-year operating deficit is about $6 billion, Moody’s said in a March report, citing the governor’s office of management and budget.

“We should never give up in getting a balanced budget,” Rauner told reporters in Chicago on Thursday. He said he was encouraging lawmakers to keep working on a deal.

On Wednesday, Senate Democrats approved a plan to allow the state to borrow as much as $7 billion to pay down the state’s record $14.5 billion of unpaid bills. Legislation to allow local government consolidation and expand gambling were approved and received some Republican votes. Measures that would change the state’s procurement practices and pension system won bipartisan approval. They still need to be approved by the House.

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  #489  
Old 05-20-2017, 07:00 PM
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http://www.bettergov.org/news/lots-o...t-easy#new_tab

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LOTS OF PEOPLE THINK THEY CAN SOLVE ILLINOIS' BUDGET MESS—BUT IT'S NOT THAT EASY

Compared to other states, Illinois has fewer state workers, spends less on Medicaid per patient and owns a worst in the nation record for supporting local schools. So budget-balancing without tax hikes will mean cutting into muscle.

.....
Just imagine amateur Illinois budgeteers weighing in on the value of the state tax break for semen used in the artificial insemination of livestock, or the sales tax exemption for sacramental wine. Those are two of the tiniest of some 270 such breaks that collectively cost the state $9.4 billion in fiscal 2015—enough to fill the deepest of budget holes.

Livestock tax breaks notwithstanding, sacred cows abound in the real life game of budget making. And that is a critical reason why politicians in this fiscal basket case of a state are having such trouble agreeing on a budget plan that calls for more taxes or less spending or some combination of both.

Perhaps the biggest impediment to an agreement is that the conventional stereotype of Illinois government as marbled with big ticket, easily cuttable fat defies reality.

On a per capita basis, no state government employs fewer people than Illinois. No state picks up a smaller percentage of local education bills. Per patient Medicaid spending is well below national norms. And the pile of debt now owed to state administed public pension systems is staggering.

.....
The Illinois corollary to that is a standoff between Republican Rauner and Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, neither of whom seems willing to get down to politically challenging budget balancing specifics. Caught in the crossfire are the state’s neediest citizens, cash-starved public universities and state vendors who to date are owed more than $13 billion in unpaid bills, according to the Illinois Comptroller.

Also like Kansas, Illinois shares a taste for temporary budget fixes and an aversion to longer-term, structural solutions. Indeed, the core of Illinois’ budget crisis is rooted in a $130 billion debt owed to state employee pension systems after leaders from both parties spent decades diverting money from retirement funds to more voter pleasing purposes.

The biggest components of the budget – state employee costs, schools, health care – don’t provide obvious cost savings that would make a substantial dent in the deficit. The state employee workforce of 62,000 in 2016 is down from 84,000 in 2002, a 26 percent reduction, according to the Comptroller’s office. Census data show Illinois has the fewest number of state employees per capita, among the states.


The Medicaid budget, the largest and fastest-growing piece of the Illinois spending document, stood at $17 billion in fiscal 2015, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, behind Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York and California. But the amount Illinois spends per Medicaid enrollee stands at about $4,500, below the national average by about $1,400 a patient, Kaiser reports.

.....
Talk of eliminating tax breaks is a popular mainstay in election campaigns, but political reality sets in when governing begins. “They rarely go away,” said Dan Long, executive director of the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, a bipartisan fiscal forecasting arm of the legislature.

Most existing breaks involve exemptions from income and sales taxes, and the costs to the state treasury tripled between 1993 and 2015, according to the Comptroller.

Unlike most other states, Illinois does not tax retirement income such as Social Security or pensions. It also imposes a steep sales tax discount on food, drugs and medical appliances. Together with standard deduction from the state income tax, such breaks cost Illinois $5 billion during fiscal 2015, the latest year for which a breakdown was available.


The retirement income break alone cost $2.2 billion, eight times more than it did in 1993. Only Mississippi and Pennsylvania, among those states with income taxes, provide similar exemptions for retiree income.

The Civic Federation, the Chicago based non-partisan fiscal watchdog, proposed a sweeping budget balancing plan earlier this year that called for a significant scaling back of the retirement income tax break so it would only apply to Social Security benefits.

“The state can no longer afford to provide this generous exemption, which is out of line with most other states,” the organization declared at the time.

That proposal is already a dead letter. Rauner nixed the idea in his February budget presentation, as well as another one to increase taxes on food and drugs. And the General Assembly, Republicans and Democrats alike, aren’t likely to take the lead in backing a tax hike that would almost certainly antagonize seniors—a key voting bloc.

“Once you give the public something it’s almost impossible to take it back,” Nowlan said, echoing the political difficulty of the Republican-led effort to repeal Obamacare. Some tax breaks now in effect in Illinois date back to the 1930s.

And if taking something back is a non-starter, Nowlan has alternatives to consider. He teaches a class at Bradley University in Peoria in which he asks students to play what he calls the “Illinois Budget Game.” The instructions, printed on a single-page, ask students to choose from a list of spending reductions, including cuts in education and Medicaid, and a list of revenue increases.

“Select among the following options,” the test says, without bothering to state the obvious: They’re all bad.
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  #490  
Old 05-20-2017, 07:26 PM
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https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294327#new_tab

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Illinois Looks to Marijuana to Plug Huge Hole it Its Budget
Tax revenues generated by legalized marijuana, plus shedding the huge costs of arresting and jailing nonviolent offenders, are powerfully appealing to fiscally beleagured states.

.....
Broke in Illinois.
Illinois is focusing on the potential of marijuana taxes to pull it out of a fiscal tailspin. State lawmakers face a staggering $4.6 billion operating shortfall.

Lawmakers, confronted with the potential for yet another credit downgrade, are considering a deal that would raise taxes rather than curtail spending, according to independent watchdog group Illinois Policy.

This month, with the state Legislature extending a budget impasse into the third year, the Civic Federation’s Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability issued an 86-page report on why the proposed budget from Gov. Bruce Rauner won’t work. They deemed state leaders’ work on the issue a “spectacular failure.”

Marijuana to the rescue?
Illinois has had a limited medical marijuana program in place since 2016. State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and state Sen. Heather Steans have co-authored legislation to make recreational marijuana legal in Illinois. The two lawmakers recently held the first of a series of planned meetings to discuss the issue.

“We want to look and understand what is happening around the country on taxing and regulating [marijuana], and if there are other ways to be thinking about this,” Steans said at the meeting, according to the Columbia Chronicle.

The pair also authored a commentary for the Chicago Tribune arguing legalized marijuana offers a new approach to the problem but partisan politics is blocking consideration of this as a budget solution. They note Colorado brought in almost $200 million in marijuana tax revenue in 2016, a stunning amount of money but a drop in the bucket for what Illinois needs.


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