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Sullivan Prepping for Final Year in Illinois Legislature

Rich Egger
State Senator John Sullivan will retire from the Legislature after this year.

As State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) this week begins his 14th year in the Legislature, the governor and legislative leaders continue to stand their ground in the ongoing budget stalemate.

“Certainly we’ve had some tumultuous times as we look back over my career but we’ve never been in this territory,” Sullivan said.

“I am just so frustrated and embarrassed by what’s happening in Springfield.”

Part 2 of the radio interview with John Sullivan

Sullivan was asked whether the stand-off is due to a clash of egos between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Democratic Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel.  Sullivan agreed egos are involved, but he said the impasse is about more than that -- it’s about a clash of ideologies.

Sullivan said, “I think those three individuals are the voices for these different ideologies (about) what is the direction the state of Illinois wants to go.  This is the crux of the problem: How do we find common ground when we have individuals and parties that have made the decision that (they) can’t give (or) compromise on their core principles?”

Sullivan said his top priority is to end the stalemate and get a budget in place for the fiscal year that’s already half over.  Higher education has yet to receive any state money this fiscal year and Sullivan said the impact is being felt in his Senate district, which he said includes one public university, three private colleges, and six community colleges.

He said human service agencies are also hurt by the stand-off, as is the state’s bond rating.  He said the state could suffer a long-term economic impact from the impasse.

Sullivan also criticized Governor Rauner’s decision to close to the public the Illinois State Museum and Dickson Mounds Museum.  Sullivan said employees are still working at the museums so he questioned whether the state is realizing any savings.

The Decision to Retire

Sullivan announced in June that he will not seek reelection, so this will be his final year in the Legislature.  He admitted he’s had second thoughts brought on by the budget impasse.

“I hate to be walking away from my position as a member of the General Assembly and as a state senator with the state in the disarray that it’s in right now,” he said, adding, “That’s not the note that I want to leave on.”

The only person who filed to run for the seat held by Sullivan is Republican Jil Tracy of Quincy, who gave up her position in the Illinois House in an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor in the 2014 GOP primary. 

Sullivan said there has been some talk in the Democratic Party about slating a candidate. He said someone needs to step forward – someone who the party could support and who has the resources for what could be a tough campaign.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.