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llinois mulls tax credits for E85, biodiesel users
Illinois Correspondent

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Buyers of fuel-efficient automobiles, including those powered by E85 ethanol and soybean-based biodiesel, would receive a $500 sales tax rebate for purchasing the vehicles in Illinois under a plan unveiled by the state’s governor last Wed. During his annual State of the State address, Gov. Rod Blagojevich said that even autos that simply get very high gas mileage would be eligible for the rebate.

“I’m proposing that we give a $500 sales tax rebate to anyone who buys fuel-efficient cars in Illinois,” Blago-jevich said during the 90-minute address from the state capital. “If you buy a car that uses E85 gasoline or biodiesel fuel or even just gets very high gas mileage, you’ll be eligible for this rebate. This tax rebate means less pollution and it means drivers save money.”

The proposal, which would have to gain the approval of the state’s general assembly, was met with enthusiasm by leaders of the state’s corn and soybean associations.

“This proposal will help to raise public awareness of the availability and benefits of flexible fuel vehicles capable of using E85,” said John Kuhfuss, Illinois Corn Growers Assoc. (ICGA) president and a farmer from Mackinaw. “The economic and environmental benefits of increased ethanol use are well documented. The ICGA appreciates the governor’s continued support and leadership in expanding ethanol and corn use.”

Rebecca Richardson, director of operations for the Illinois Soybean Assoc. (ISA) and Checkoff Board, said her members also supported the governor’s proposal.

“While we don’t know all of the details, we are pleased that the governor continues efforts to support development of the renewable fuels industry in Illinois,” Richardson said after Blagojevich’s speech. “His track record for supporting this industry speaks for itself ever since one of the first bills he signed into law was a sales tax credit extension for ethanol and a new tax credit for biodiesel.”

Richardson said the ISA would be “pleased to assist” the governor and his staff in establishing the program’s criteria.

John Hawkins, communications director for the Illinois Farm Bureau, said the organization has “always been supportive of (Blagojevich’s) efforts” to expand the use of bio-fuels.

“In fact, our delegates recently approved policy to help expand the availability of flexible fuel cars in Illinois and the nation,” Hawkins said.

During the address, Blagojevich outlined his plans for several other new initiatives, including a capital construction plan designed to create 230,000 jobs building new roads, schools, and mass transit facilities, a $1,000 tax credit for every public or private college student in the state, and the creation of specialized prisons and treatment facilities for methamphetamine addicts.

Published in the January 25, 2006 issue of Farm World.