Two Republican state legislators from downstate Illinois filed a proposal to "divorce" Illinois from its traditional metropolis, arguing that Chicago should comprise its own state rather than overshadow the more conservative political positions held around Illinois.
"At the end of this fiscal year we'll have $5 billion of unpaid Medicaid bills," State Rep. Bill Mitchell said during a press conference last week. "With the president's Obamacare coming down on the state of Illinois and expanding Medicaid further, it's going to put an additional $2 billion on the taxpayers of the state of Illinois . . . just like a divorce, there's irreconcilable differences between the state of Illinois and Cook County; [they] want to spend money we don't have."
The U.S. Constitution allows for the creation of new states out of old ones, subject to ratification by the state and U.S. legislature. "No new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress," Article IV reads.
"When I talk to constituents, one of the biggest things I hear is 'Chicago should be its own state,' Mitchell told the Decatur Tribune. "You only have to look at the election results from last year's governor's race to see the problem," he explained. "Cook County [which contains Chicago] carried Pat Quinn, while almost every downstate county supported [Republican] Bill Brady. Our voters' voices were drowned out by Chicago," he added.
"I don't feel this is a radical concept -- it's been done in the history of the country," Mitchell argued, citing the creation of West Virginia from Virginia, among others. "Illinois, in the last census we have about 12.8 million citizens; cook county has 5.1 [million]. So, separating Cook from the state of Illinois, Cook County would be bigger than 29 other states of the union. Illionois would be bigger -- have a larger population -- than Indiana."
Due to Democratic control of Chicago, "downstate Illinois has suffered," he added. "Our debt has gone from $8 [billion] to $28 billion. In the last 8 years, we've skipped two pension payments, and three other years we've just said, 'let's put the pension payment on the credit card.'"