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Sin Taxes: The Sobering Fiscal Reality

Thursday, April 2, 2015 - 1:00pm to 7:45pm

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
230 South LaSalle Street, 3rd Floor
Chicago, Illinois

The Civic Federation is pleased to partner with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to co-host a half-day forum, “Sin Taxes: The Sobering Fiscal Reality” on Thursday, April 2 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

To download materials and presentations from the conference, click here.



7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. — Registration and Continental Breakfast
Badge Pickup and Security Inspection in the Lobby

8:05 a.m. —  Welcome
William Testa,Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

8:10 a.m. — Sin Taxes: Good idea, Bad idea or Simply Convenient?
Adam Hoffer, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse

8:50 a.m. — Break

9:00 a.m. Session I — Competition and Cooperation: Cross-Jurisdictional Issues and Tobacco Taxes
Different tobacco tax rates across jurisdictional boundaries can create difficulties in budgeting revenues and in enforcement. However, they also create opportunities for cooperation. Panelists will discuss challenges, opportunities and the future of tobacco taxes in Illinois, as well as the role taxes play in Chicago’s goals to reduce tobacco use among residents.

Moderator: Adrienne Archia, Civic Federation Board of Directors


  • Brian Cooper, Illinois Department of Revenue
  • Ivan Samstein, Chief Financial Officer, Cook County
  • Jidong Huang, Senior Research Scientist, UIC Institute for Health

10:30 a.m. — Break


10:45 a.m. Session II — High Times? Marijuana Legalization in Colorado and Medical Marijuana in Illinois  
The new frontier in sin taxes is marijuana, with four states and the District of Columbia having legalized recreational use of cannabis. Colorado was the first state to legalize and realize significant tax revenues, along with unexpected enforcement issues. Illinois recently passed a pilot medical marijuana program. Panelists will discuss the revenues and complications associated with full legalization and limited medical use.

Moderator: Rick Mattoon, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago


  • The Honorable Lou Lang, Illinois State Representative
  • Andrew Freedman, Director of Marijuana Coordination, State of Colorado

11:45 a.m. — Break


12:00 p.m. — Luncheon, Keynote Speaker
Scott Pattison, Executive Director, National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO)

1:00 p.m. — Break


1:15 p.m. Session III — At the Tipping Point: Gaming Expansion vs. Falling Resources
Gaming expansions are perennially on the agenda to increase resources for cash-strapped states and municipalities, including in Illinois. However, some observers are now questioning whether gaming has become so ubiquitous that new expansions will not significantly increase revenue. Panelists will discuss national and state gaming revenue trends and the prospect for future gaming expansions in Illinois and Chicago.

Moderator: Elizabeth Coolidge, Managing Director, PNC Capital Markets


  • Lucy Dadayan, Senior Policy Analyst, The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government  
  • Peter Matuszak, Senior Analyst, Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability at the Civic Federation
  • Mark Ostrowski, Director, Illinois Gaming Board

2:45 p.m. — Adjournment
Laurence Msall, President, The Civic Federation