Illinois lawmaker proposes making Chicago its own state

Illinois lawmaker proposes making Chicago its own state

Despite political differences between Chicago and much of the rest of the Land of Lincoln, making Chicago its own state is not a serious idea or good use of time.

Downstate residents often joke that Chicago should be a separate state from the rest of Illinois, and one Illinois lawmaker is taking that idea seriously.

State Rep. Reggie Phillips, R-Charleston, introduced House Resolution 1138 May 24, urging the “United States Congress to take action to declare the City of Chicago the 51st state of the United State of America and separate it from the rest of Illinois.” Phillips gained two cosponsors, though no vote was taken before session ended at the end of May.

It’s not a brand-new idea – a similar measure in 2011 likewise did not pick up any traction. State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, introduced a resolution in November 2011 that would have made Cook County a state separate from the rest of Illinois. The resolution died in the House Rules Committee, and like Phillips’ resolution now, was a misguided effort.

While frustration toward Chicago – a city where political and financial dysfunction can have outsized effects on the rest of the state – can sometimes be valid, energy spent on separating it from the rest of Illinois is a rather non-serious use of time. Instead of focusing on farfetched resolutions divvying up the state, politicians would be better served focusing on reforms that make the entire state competitive – which Phillips, who is not seeking reelection, could have strived for more of in his final term in office.

In 2017, Phillips was one of 15 House Republicans to vote for a 32 percent income tax hike, the largest in state history. The resulting budget was devoid of any structural spending reforms to slow growth in the cost of government, and is bound to cost the state economy jobs and investment.

Asking to separate Chicago from the rest of the state preys on the worst instincts of frustrated Illinoisans, and isn’t a real solution to any of Illinois’ problems. Instead, enacting economic reforms to help the entire state thrive should be lawmakers’ main focus.

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