Fiscal Policy

Illinois Governor Talks Taxes In Budget Address

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R-Winnetka) gave his third budget speech on Wednesday, saying the following regarding taxes:

As for revenue, we’ve always said that we’d consider revenue if it comes with changes that create jobs and grow the economy.

The current Senate proposal calls for a permanent increase in the income tax rate but offers only a temporary property tax freeze in exchange. That’s just not fair to hard-working taxpayers across the state.

We need a permanent property tax freeze in Illinois, just like the one the House passed last month. Over time, as our economy grows and revenues expand, any increase in the income tax could be stepped down – dedicating future surpluses to taxpayers, not more government spending.

The current Senate proposal would expand the state’s sales tax to cover everyday services, and raise taxes on food and drugs. We’re open to a broader sales tax base to mirror neighboring states like Wisconsin, but let’s make sure it’s best for the people of Illinois, not for the lobbyists in Springfield. We cannot raise taxes on people’s groceries and medicine – just as we cannot tax people’s retirement incomes. We can find a way to balance the budget without hurting lower-income families and fixed-income seniors…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In short, Governor Rauner appears to be open to raising the state income tax rate as long as a permanent property tax freeze is implemented. Furthermore, Rauner looks to be open to expanding the state sales tax to various services, but is against raising taxes on food, medicine, and retirement income.

You can read the entire budget address on the Illinois Government News Network website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Thursday, February 16th, 2017 Fiscal Policy, Food, Government, Health, Income, Retirement, Spending, Taxes Comments Off on Illinois Governor Talks Taxes In Budget Address

Jim Rogers: ‘I Want To Own More Silver But I Want To Own It At A Lower Price Which I Expect’

Tonight I just got finished reading the transcript of a February 9, 2017, interview of well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers by Macro Voices’ Erik Townsend. As usual, the former investing partner of George Soros discussed a number of topics, including:

U.S. Stocks- “Happy days are here” if President Trump carries out those “wonderful things” he said he would (cut taxes, rebuild infrastructure, bring $3 trillion home which U.S. companies have overseas) and avoids trade wars

U.S. Dollar- Despite the correction, “it’s going to go too high, may turn into a bubble, at which point I hope I’m smart enough to sell it because at some point the market forces are going to cause the dollar to come back down because people are going to realize, oh my gosh, this is causing a lot of turmoil, economic problems in the world and it’s damaging the American economy.”

Junk Bonds- “I am shorting junk bonds still”

Precious Metals- “I’m still sitting and watching. I want to own more gold. I want to own more silver but I want to own it at a lower price which I expect.”

“War on Cash”- “Probably we are not going to have as many freedoms as we have now even though we are already losing our freedoms at a significant pace.”

The Singapore-based investor mentioned in a separate interview earlier this month regarding India’s demonetization efforts:

If governments do away with cash, it gives them more power and control.

Townsend’s interview was of Rogers was thorough and interesting, particularly that bit about silver. Head on over to the Macro Voices website here to listen to/read their exchange.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; a qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

Source:

Wadhwa, Puneet. “Modi is doing everything he can to get votes: Jim Rogers.” Business Standard. 2 Feb. 2017. (http://www.business-standard.com/budget/article/modi-is-doing-everything-he-can-to-get-votes-jim-rogers-117020200389_1.html). 13 Feb. 2017.

Rogers’ latest book…

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Monday, February 13th, 2017 Asia, Bonds, Bubbles, Business, Commodities, Crash Prophets, Currencies, Fiscal Policy, Freedom, Government, Infrastructure, Investing, Precious Metals, Spending, Stocks, Trade, War Comments Off on Jim Rogers: ‘I Want To Own More Silver But I Want To Own It At A Lower Price Which I Expect’

IMF Chief: ‘Optimistic’ About U.S. Economy While Stronger Dollar, Higher Interest Rates ‘Worrying’

Yesterday I caught the following on the website of Agence France-Presse. AFP reported:

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde on Sunday voiced optimism for US economic growth under President Donald Trump but warned it could herald trouble for the rest of the world.

“From the little we know, and I will insist on the little we know, because this is really work in progress… but from the little we hear, we have reasons to be optimistic about economic growth in the United States,” Lagarde said at the annual World Government Summit in Dubai.

Lagarde predicted tax reform and more investment in infrastructure were both likely under Trump…

“Now that’s the good news,” said Lagarde. “The more worrying news, if you will, is that it will have consequences on the rest of the world, and we are seeing it.”

She highlighted the strength of the dollar against other currencies, predicting a hike in interest rates regulated by the Federal Reserve.

“That’s a tightening that will be difficult on the global economy and for which economies will have to prepare,” said Lagarde.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Hmm. Could the Federal Reserve use Lagarde’s concern regarding higher U.S. interest rates making things “difficult” for the global economy as one reason not to raise rates next month?

The other weekend, Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff claimed in his YouTube vlog:

The reason the Fed didn’t give a clue that it might be raising rates in March, is because it has no intention of doing so.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

Source:

“IMF’s Lagarde ‘optimistic’ about U.S. economy.” Agence France-Presse. 12 Feb. 2017. (https://www.yahoo.com/news/imfs-lagarde-optimistic-us-economy-104123263.html) 13 Feb. 2017.

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Monday, February 13th, 2017 Crash Prophets, Currencies, Federal Reserve, Fiscal Policy, Government, Infrastructure, Interest Rates, Spending, Taxes Comments Off on IMF Chief: ‘Optimistic’ About U.S. Economy While Stronger Dollar, Higher Interest Rates ‘Worrying’

Treasury Department Issues Reminder About Debt Limit Deal Expiration

“They are going to be in a crisis within weeks. The debt ceiling was suspended arbitrarily until March 15. When it comes back into effect there will be $20 trillion of debt. And before they can do anything on all of this stimulus they’re talking about they’re going to have to raise the debt ceiling and where are the votes going to come from? It’s going to make 2011, if you remember the debt ceiling crisis in 2011, look like a Sunday school picnic. We’re in bad shape.”

-David Stockman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, speaking on the FOX Business Channel on January 25, 2017

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued the following reminder about the March 15 expiration of the debt limit deal reached two years ago. From a press release on their website:

The debt limit places a limitation on the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments. The debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have made in the past.

The Bipartisan Budget Act suspended the debt limit through March 15, 2017. If Congress fails to increase or further suspend the debt limit by March 15, Treasury can take certain extraordinary measures to continue to finance the government on a temporary basis.

Extraordinary measures will allow the government to continue to meet its obligations for a period of time after March 15. That said, it is impossible to provide a precise forecast as to how long the extraordinary measures will last. Treasury will provide greater clarity at a later date regarding how long extraordinary measures will allow Treasury to continue to borrow…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

So how is this setting up for the next couple of weeks?

According to MarketWatch’s Greg Robb on on February 1:

During the Obama administration, Republicans in Congress sought to use the debt limit vote to force spending cuts.

Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin said he would like to see Congress act to raise the debt limit “sooner rather than later.”

But Trump’s choice to head the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, was a leader of the House Republican effort to use the debt limit vote as a lever to reign in spending…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Stay tuned folks…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Robb, Greg. “Raising the debt ceiling is now Trump’s problem. MarketWatch. 1 Feb. 2017. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/raising-the-debt-ceiling-is-now-trumps-problem-2017-02-01). 7 Feb. 2017.

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Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 Debt Crisis, Fiscal Policy, Government, Political Parties, Spending, Stimulus Comments Off on Treasury Department Issues Reminder About Debt Limit Deal Expiration

Peter Schiff Predicts Resumption Of Dollar Decline, Gold Rally This Week

It’s been a while, but Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff added a new entry to The Schiff Report YouTube vlog on Saturday. Schiff, who correctly-called the housing bust and economic crisis last decade, talked about a number of subjects, including his belief that the Federal Reserve has no intention of raising rates in March, “a lot” of dollar selling is coming, and the gold rally will resume. From the video:

The reason the Fed didn’t give a clue that it might be raising rates in March, is because it has no intention of doing so…

I think the trade deficits are going up. I think the budget deficits are going up. Certainly to the extent that we get some tax cuts. We continue to get more government spending. If we get more government spending under Trump on the military, on the border, on infrastructure. Rising trade deficits. Rising budget deficits. Rising inflation. All of this is going to be a big negative for the dollar. And of course, everybody was so loaded up long the dollar, I think the people who own the dollar- there’s a lot of dollar selling that’s coming. And I think the dollar bulls are going to end up losing a lot of money…

Since the beginning of this year the Dow is barely up more than 1 percent. You can contrast that to the price of gold which is up 6 percent so far this year. Look at gold stocks. Gold stocks are up 17 percent as a group so far in 2017. 17 percent. Everybody’s talking about the Dow. No one’s talking about gold stocks. In fact, gold stocks were the number one performing sector last year, by far. Wasn’t even close. And they’re already by far the number one performing sector this year. But nobody really wants to talk about it…

I think we’re going to see a resumption of the dollar decline and gold rally next week…


“Rising Unemployment Is Just The Excuse The Fed’s Been Waiting For”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page. A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

Schiff’s latest book…

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Monday, February 6th, 2017 Commodities, Crash Prophets, Currencies, Federal Reserve, Fiscal Policy, Government, Inflation, Infrastructure, Investing, Military, Monetary Policy, Precious Metals, Spending, Stocks, Taxes, Trade Comments Off on Peter Schiff Predicts Resumption Of Dollar Decline, Gold Rally This Week

Illinois State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D) Proposes Wide-Ranging Anti-Gun Tax

Now that the November elections are over, it was only a matter of time before the next assault was launched against the Second Amendment in Illinois.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action published the following on their website Monday:

Illinois: Anti-Gun Tax Proposed on Exercising Second Amendment Rights

Last week, the Illinois Senate received Senate Amendment 2 to Senate Bill 9 from state Senator Toi Hutchinson. In an attempt to address the ongoing budget problem in Illinois, Sen. Hutchinson decided to tax Illinois residents’ Second Amendment rights, and by extension, their right to safety.

Under SA 2, a 5% tax would be imposed on any membership or access fee for gun clubs, shooting ranges, hunt clubs, training classes and match fees. Not only is this an abhorrent tax on your Second Amendment rights, it also requires that any of those places/people to register with the state and pay an annual fee of $75 just so that they can offer their service or membership with the 5% tax added.

By increasing the price of self-defense classes as well as any fee spent on range time and practice, this amendment is making it more expensive for Illinoisans to seek training to be able to defend themselves. SA 2 to Senate Bill 9 effectively sees Illinois residents’ right to safety as an opportunity to ease the budget burden on the entirety of the state. Further, any “repair, servicing, alteration, fitting, cleaning, painting, coating, towing, inspection, or maintenance of tangible personal property” is also taxable under SA 2. This section would include all gunsmithing and gun refinishing under taxable services.

It is extremely important that NRA members and Second Amendment supporters contact their state Senator and strongly urge them to oppose Senate Amendment 2 to Senate Bill 9. The Second Amendment rights and right to safety of Illinoisans is not something that the legislature should tax

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The NRA-ILA offers opponents of Senate Amendment 2 to Senate Bill 9 a way to take action via their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 Debt Crisis, Firearms, Fiscal Policy, Government, Gun Rights, Hunting, Political Parties, Public Safety, Self-Defense, Shooting Sports, Taxes, Training Comments Off on Illinois State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D) Proposes Wide-Ranging Anti-Gun Tax

State Of Illinois Downgraded By Fitch Ratings

Fitch Ratings, a major U.S. credit rating agency, announced this afternoon it had downgraded the State of Illinois. From their news release:

Fitch Ratings has downgraded the following ratings of the state of Illinois:

Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB+;
$25.9 billion in outstanding general obligation (GO) bonds to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB+’;
–$431 million Illinois Sports Facilities Authority sports facilities bonds (state tax supported) to ‘BBB-‘from ‘BBB’;
–$2.6 billion Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority McCormick Place expansion project bonds to ‘BBB-‘ from ‘BBB’;
–$267.8 million city of Chicago motor fuel tax revenue bonds to ‘BBB-‘ from ‘BBB’.

The Rating Watch Negative is maintained…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

With this downgrade, Illinois’ new credit rating is just two notches above “junk” status.

Fitch noted:

The downgrade of Illinois’s IDR and related ratings reflects the unprecedented failure of the state to enact a full budget for two consecutive years and the financial implications of spending far in excess of available revenues, which has resulted in increased accumulated liabilities and reduced financial flexibility. Even if the current attempts at a resolution to the extended impasse prove successful, Fitch believes that the failure to act to date has fundamentally weakened the state’s financial profile….

Fitch expects to resolve the Rating Watch within the next six months based on an assessment of the state’s fiscal trajectory as it starts fiscal 2018. If the state continues on the current path, a further downgrade would be warranted

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

You can read the entire Fitch Ratings news release here on their website.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, February 1st, 2017 Bonds, Borrowing, Credit, Debt Crisis, Fiscal Policy, Government, Spending Comments Off on State Of Illinois Downgraded By Fitch Ratings

State Of Illinois’ Unpaid Bills Could Spike To $15 Billion By July

Bad news about the State of Illinois’ finances keeps rolling in. Monique Garcia reported on the website of the Chicago Tribune this morning:

The state has a record stack of unpaid bills that’s expected to hit $15 billion by July if nothing is done, and it must fork over interest when it’s late paying them. Putting a hard dollar figure on those interest costs is difficult, however…

The potential price tag is high enough that Senate leaders from both parties are pushing a plan to borrow billions of dollars to help whittle down the bill backlog and limit interest payments…

Under the plan being pushed by Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate, Illinois would borrow $7 billion over seven years to pay down the bill backlog and bring the payment cycle closer to 30 days…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The Tribune article comes after Governor Bruce Rauner pointed out in his State of the State address last Wednesday:

We haven’t had a full year budget of some kind in a year-and-a-half- and we haven’t had a state budget that is truly balanced in decades. We have more than $11 billion in unpaid bills, a $130 billion unfunded pension liability, and the worst credit rating in the nation. We have the 5th highest overall tax burden and one of the lowest rates of job creation of any state

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Garcia’s piece took a close look at the interest payments associated with the bill backlog debacle, which you can read about here on the Tribune site.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Monday, January 30th, 2017 Borrowing, Business, Credit, Debt Crisis, Fiscal Policy, Government, Political Parties, Spending, Taxes Comments Off on State Of Illinois’ Unpaid Bills Could Spike To $15 Billion By July

Reagan Budget Director David Stockman: ‘We Are Heading Into An Absolute Fiscal Bloodbath’

I’ m pretty sure I’ve never brought up David Stockman before on this blog, but what he’s warning about the nation’s finances is worth mentioning tonight. Stockman is a former two-term Congressman from Michigan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, Wall Street veteran, and author. On Wednesday, he appeared on the FOX Business Channel show Mornings with Maria and talked about President Trump and the national debt. Stockman warned viewers:

We are heading into an absolute fiscal bloodbath. As the CBO put out yesterday, there’s $10 trillion of more debt built into the next decade, even before one dime of tax cuts from Trump or infrastructure spending or increasing defense like he wants to. And so what I suggest is that we have an even more absurd fiscal proposition from Donald Trump today than we did back in 1981 when we tried to cut taxes, increase defense substantially, and balance the budget. They are going to be in a crisis within weeks. The debt ceiling was suspended arbitrarily until March 15. When it comes back into effect there will be $20 trillion of debt. And before they can do anything on all of this stimulus they’re talking about they’re going to have to raise the debt ceiling and where are the votes going to come from? It’s going to make 2011, if you remember the debt ceiling crisis in 2011, look like a Sunday school picnic. We’re in bad shape.


“David Stockman: We are heading into an absolute fiscal bloodbath”
FOX Business Channel Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Friday, January 27th, 2017 Debt Crisis, Fiscal Policy, Infrastructure, Military, Political Parties, Spending, Stimulus, Taxes Comments Off on Reagan Budget Director David Stockman: ‘We Are Heading Into An Absolute Fiscal Bloodbath’

Amended Illinois Tax Hike Plan To Hit Taxpayers, Businesses, And Employment?

Back on January 16 I published a post on Survival And Prosperity entitled “Illinois ‘Grand Bargain’ Legislation Includes 32 Percent Personal Income Tax Hike.” I started the piece with:

Illinois taxpayers may get hit with a significant income tax hike pretty soon…

Yesterday morning, I learned the potential “hit” could be a “combination of punches” directred at taxpayers, businesses, and employment.

From the Greg Hinz On Politics blog on the website of Crain’s Chicago Business:

There’s still no word on when lawmakers are going to vote on it, but an amended tax-hike plan has been introduced in the state capital.

It’s a doozy, with an even higher income tax, a limited service tax and a sort of minimum tax on business. But the soda pop levy is gone, as are a couple of those corporate loophole closings that business groups didn’t like…

The highlights:

The Individual income tax would go to 4.99 percent from the current 3.75 percent, and the corporate income tax to 7 percent from 5.25 percent. Combined, that would pull in about an additional $5 billion a year.

A new “business opportunity tax” ranging from a fee of $225 to $15,000 a year would be imposed, based on payroll. The intent is to make sure that all companies pay something, whether they are profitable or not. The state’s net on this is an estimated $750 million a year.

However, the research and development tax credit would be made permanent and the manufacturers purchase and graphics arts credits would be combined, as some businesses wanted.

A service tax—extension of the sales tax—would be imposed on certain items including repair and maintenance of personal property, use of amusement services including gyms, landscaping, laundry and dry-cleaning, and storage of personal goods such as cars and property. This would pull in a projected $400 million a year.

The telecom excise tax would be extended to cable and satellite services.

Both Radogno and Cullerton are said to have negotiated and support the above, pending action on the rest of the package…

Hinz does a good job summarizing the proposed expanded revenue grab. At this point, I want to go back to that bit about a new “business opportunity tax.” From the actual legislation for the so-called “Business Opportunity Tax Act”:

Section 1-10. Tax imposed.
(a) Beginning on July 1, 2017, a tax is hereby imposed upon each qualified business for the privilege of doing business in the State.
(b) The tax under subsection (a) shall be imposed in the following amounts:
(1) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is less than $100,000, then then annual tax is $225;
(2) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $100,000 or more but less than $250,000, then the annual tax is $750;
(3) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $250,000 or more but less than $500,000, then the annual tax is $3,750;
(4) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $500,000 or more but less than $1,500,000, then the annual tax is $7,500; and
(5) if the taxpayer’s total Illinois payroll for the taxable year is $1,500,000 or more, then the annual tax is $15,000…

I can see a number of existing and prospective Illinois business owners having concerns with the proposed “Business Opportunity Tax Act.”

First, Illinois already has poor business reputation. For example, early last year Chief Executive magazine asked 513 CEOs to rank states they are familiar with on the friendliness of their tax and regulatory regime, workforce quality, and living environment. The “Land of Lincoln” came in as the 48th worst state in this annual survey, beaten only by New York and California in that order. The “Business Opportunity Tax Act” has the real potential of increasing the perception that Illinois is business-unfriendly.

Second, if my understanding of the legislation is correct, the larger the payroll an Illinois business has, the more taxes they will pay. Consider the following. If I’m an Illinois business owner with a payroll just shy of $250K who would like to bring on more staff, I may be dissuaded from doing so to avoid forking over an additional $3,000 to the state (unless I’m convinced the hiring would offset the $3K hit). And how might employee raises be impacted once payrolls start approaching a higher tax bracket? The proposed “Business Opportunity Tax Act” may not be too terrific for Illinois employment.

Third, readers of this blog may know that I am in the process of rolling out a research business focusing on specialized asset protection. It’s been my intention to launch in the Chicago area. Lately, however, I’ve been thninking of opening up shop in southeast Wisconsin (where my family has a residence) due to the direction Illinois looks to be heading with taxes and its treatment of the business community. The passage of the “Business Opportunity Tax Act” could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I wonder how many other prospective Illinois business owners might be in the same boat?

Stay tuned…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Hinz, Greg. “New, wider tax plan rolls out in Springfield.” Greg Hinz On Politics. 24 Jan. 2017. (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20170124/BLOGS02/170129931/springfield-lawmakers-roll-out-new-wider-tax-hike-plan). 26 Jan. 2017.

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Thursday, January 26th, 2017 Business, Employment, Fiscal Policy, Government, Political Parties, Taxes Comments Off on Amended Illinois Tax Hike Plan To Hit Taxpayers, Businesses, And Employment?
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