Sullivan Looks Forward To 2010

Undated – A new law helped State Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) ring in the new year. Legislation he's been sponsoring for several years was finally signed into law.

As of Jan. 1, large trucks are allowed to travel at the same speed as all other vehicles on rural interstates. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed the measure every time it hit his desk.

But Sullivan says working with current Gov. Pat Quinn has been an entirely different story. Sullivan says he and Quinn had a personal, one-on-one conversation about the bill.

"It was very refreshing that he actually took the time to ask questions about it, instead of just making a decision, you know, maybe not based on all the facts that are out there," says Sullivan.

Opponents to the measure argue that increasing the speed limit for large trucks to 65 will make the roadways unsafe. But trucking industry representatives argue the opposite -- they say cars and trucks going the same speed will actually be safer. Plus, they say truckers will be able to log more miles in a day, thereby making more money.

Sullivan agrees with the trucking industry, but realizes not every car and truck will travel 65 miles per hour on Illinois interstates. He realizes there are drivers who will take excessive advantage of their new privilege.

"If it does indeed create a problem, there's certainly nothing stopping the General Assembly from coming back and revoking that," Sullivan said.

Illinois joins the vast majority of the country in allowing trucks to travel at the same speed as cars.

A new session of the 96th General Assembly gets underway next Tuesday (Jan. 12). Sullivan says a big chunk of time will be devoted to the budget, mainly figuring out how to pay bills and fill a large deficit. But he says he does have a few other legislative items in mind.

For starters, Sullivan says he and a few of his fellow Senate Democrats are trying to craft a "jobs creation" package.

"We're working on a package of bills that we feel would be beneficial," says Sullivan. "There's certainly a great deal of discussion going on right now as to what that legislation, what that package of bills, needs to look like."

Sullivan says one of his ideas to help western Illinois would be to expand and enhance the "EDGE," or Economic Development for a Growing Economy, tax credit. The program gives state tax credits to businesses choosing to locate in Illinois when also courted by Iowa and Missouri. In return, the businesses must provide a set number of jobs and a certain amount of capital investment depending on the business's size.

Sullivan says the EDGE tax credit helped attract Pella to Macomb.