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The Majority Report 04/24/17 - Pills, Pot and Paper


A Portrait of Bad Priorities

Opioid addictionWhat do pills, pot and paper have in common? They're all examples of the governor's mixed up priorities.

Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill, spoke last Wednesday about a "cycle of despair" that leads to the opioid addiction that plagues rural counties in Illinois. Manar said he would not vote for a budget that cuts addiction treatment and prevention services.

In Macoupin County, where Manar spoke, 11 people died of drug overdoses in 2016 and 60 percent of the controlled substance felony filings this year have been opioid-related.

And yet, the governor does not consider opioid addiction prevention and treatment programs a priority, Manar said. The governor's budget shows a cut of $14 million for non-Medicaid addiction treatment services in his proposed budget for FY18 ($38.6 million) when compared to FY15 ($52.6 million).

In addition, delayed payments to addiction treatment centers in rural parts of Illinois, such as the Wells Center in Jacksonville, have pushed them to the brink of closure.


Recreational marijuanaAdditionally, although the governor's proposed budget has a $5 billion hole, he stands in opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana, despite its potential revenue.

This week, lawmakers heard from Barbara Brohl, Colorado's "pot czar," about the positive financial effects of legal recreational marijuana in her state. Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago is the chief sponsor of a measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana for adults over 21 years of age.

According to Colorado officials, the state collected $43 million in new revenue for schools in 2015-2016 by taxing marijuana. According to research conducted by the Drug Policy Alliance, Denver saw a 2.2 percent decrease in violent crime rates and an 8.9 percent reduction in property crime offenses during the first year of legalization.

Apparently unmoved by popular opinion, Gov. Bruce Rauner has been reluctant to expand the medical marijuana pilot program, and he has already made statements against recreational legalization. Last month, he told the Chicago Tribune that he has heard "some pretty bad stories" from his friends in Colorado.


Sen. Tom CullertonMeanwhile, Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park, has called for the Illinois Legislative Audit Commission to conduct a statewide audit of state facilities after it came to light that the state is paying $2.4 million to store documents in a warehouse that could have been bought for $750,000.

"The governor prioritizes paper over people," Cullerton said. "Meals on Wheels, rape crisis centers and mental health facilities are surviving on bare-bones budgets while state files are living the high life. It may be difficult for a big-time businessman to get this, but the state doesn't have $1.65 million to waste on careless expenses."


The bottom line? The people of Illinois are suffering while the governor mismanages money and turns away from potential sources of revenue.


Biss, Collins target discriminatory car insurance practices

car insuranceSenator Daniel Biss, Evanston, and Senator Jacqueline Collins, Chicago, responded to an eye-opening study that shows car insurers are charging higher premiums to people who live in predominantly minority neighborhoods, a bias that was revealed in a ProPublica-Consumer Reports investigation earlier this month.

The in-depth investigative piece focused on Illinois and three other states, revealing pricing disparities among car insurance premiums paid by customers based on their ZIP codes. In some cases, residents in predominantly minority neighborhoods of Chicago paid as much as 30 percent more in premiums than residents in mostly white neighborhoods - a disparity for which differences in risk could not account.

Biss announced he would throw his support behind car insurance legislation sponsored by Collins. They plan to amend Senate Bill 1706 - which currently would disallow a driver's credit score from determining his or her insurance rate - to also disallow the use of ZIP codes in setting rates.


Chicago Sun-Times: State senator wants to bar zip code from car insurance equation
WLS: Push for auto insurance equality
The Daily Northwestern: Biss, Collins propose legislation banning car insurance premium redlining


Hey, Gov...

The Illinois Senate continues working on a bipartisan balanced budget. But Governor Rauner's meddling slowed progress.

Meanwhile, Governor Rauner's cabinet members have yet to identify any budget cuts and can't find any fraud, waste or abuse in state government spending.

However, recent budget hearings revealed millions of dollars in Rauner administration executive bonuses, secretive lease deals and fast-tracked patronage hiring. We know Illinoisans have a lot of questions for Governor Rauner and his administration.

So, as elected representatives, we're ready to help you get your questions answered.

Click here share your questions for us to ask Governor Rauner about his budget priorities.


In case you missed it

Senator Daniel Biss, Evanston: Thousands of Chicago protestors call for Trump tax returns (The Daily Northwestern)

Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park: Tom Cullerton: "The governor prioritizes paper over people" (The Daily Herald)

Senator Bill Haine, Alton: State lawmakers hold hearing on recreational marijuana. Where does your legislator stand? (Belleville News-Democrat)

Senator Linda Holmes, Aurora: School funding focus of Aurora town hall meeting (Chicago Tribune)

Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Manar: What Illinois needs is accountability, not apologists (State Journal-Register)

Senator Kwame Raoul, Chicago: Column: While Rauner picks at workers' comp, 2 grand bargains fade (Chicago Tribune)

Senator Heather Steans, Chicago: Safety, homelessness come up during discussion on legal pot (Chicago Sun-Times)


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