We understand the meaningless gesture by some state legislators from our area suggesting that a cleaver be taken to the Illinois map, separating Chicago from the rest of us, but let’s face it — it’s never going to happen.
No matter how good it feels to spout off about it now and then that Chicago doesn’t get us, we also don’t always get the urban complexities of Chicago from the Illinois prairie.
State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) filed a resolution this month appealing to the United States Congress to separate Chicago from Illinois and make it the 51st state. Halbrook said he’s bringing attention to the disconnect between the Chicago area and the rest of the state. That sort of attention has been brought before and probably will be again.
A study last year by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale noted: “This red county versus blue county history is especially evident in Illinois, where our politics are marked and marred by regionalism. It is so prevalent that fairly often some angry pundit or politician will advance the perennial idea of dividing Illinois into two states, Chicago and the downstate region, ostensibly in order to free the rural areas from the burdens of Chicago.”
Halbrook says those northerners, “make financial decisions and policies that don’t follow what the rest of the state wants.”
The SIU study polled residents across Illinois with this question: “How much attention do you feel state government pays to what the people in your community think when it decides what to do?”
Statewide, just 5 percent responded “A good deal.” In Chicago, 7 percent said that. Downstate, it was just 3 percent.
Statewide, 70 percent said “Not much.” In Chicago, that answer captured 72 percent of the answers. Downstate, it was 73 percent.
The study also looked at the revenue generated in taxes in Illinois counties compared to the money those counties receive from the state.
Cook County — where Chicago is located — gets back just 80 cents for every dollar it sends the state, according to the study. Edgar County on the other hand, gets back $1.41 for every tax dollar it sends to the state. Clark County is at $1.22 while Douglas County gets even less back than Chicago — 75 cents on the dollar.
It’s no secret most Central Illinois residents are frustrated when we see a a sea of red in a state of blue. But talk of jettisoning Chicago is akin to that old saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face.