Downstate Lawmaker: Kick Chicago, Cook County Out Of Illinois

UPDATED 11/23/11 5:41 a.m.

DECATUR, Ill. (CBS) — A downstate lawmaker would like to kick Chicago and Cook County out of the state of Illinois.

CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall says state Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Decatur) finds that Cook County dominates all politics and legislation in Springfield, and he thinks it is time for the state to cut its largest population center adrift for the “betterment” of the rest of Illinois.

He says Cook County should be allowed to exist apart from the state like the District of Columbia, with its own government.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman reports

Mitchell introduced formal legislation Tuesday that “urges Congress to enact legislation dividing Illinois and Cook County into separate states.” Rep. Adam Brown (R-Decatur) is the only lawmaker to have signed on as a co-sponsor.

The proposed Joint Resolution says the populations of Cook County and the other 101 Illinois counties “hold different and firmly seated views” on politics, society and economics, and “both groups should enjoy the chance to govern themselves with their firmly seated values.”

In comments to WBBM Newsradio’s Alex Degman, Mitchell characterized Cook County lawmakers as fiscally reckless.

“They want what they want, and what I’m staying as a downstater, ‘OK, go and do what you want to do,’” Mitchell said. “Increase your debt. Spend more money. Add more people on public assistance.”

Brown also elaborated further on his complaints about differences in “firmly seated values” in comments to the Decatur Tribune.

He told the paper he blames Chicago Democrats for the state income tax increase, the legalization of same-sex civil unions, and the abolition of the death penalty, which he called “liberal policies (that) are an insult to the traditional values of downstate families.”

The text of the resolution argues that there is precedent for states splitting in two, citing an example from nearly 200 years ago.

It points out that until 1820, Maine was part of the State of Massachusetts in an arrangement that “did not work very well,” and the inhabitants of Maine successfully voted for secession.

Mitchell said the collar counties would remain part of Illinois, and would be treated in a way similar to how suburbs of New York City in New Jersey and Connecticut are treated.

He says he is not worried about Cook County tax and tourism dollars leaving the state, as expenses would be different once the county breaks off.

The entire state of Illinois has about 12.8 million residents, of whom 5.2 million, or about 40 percent, live in Cook County. About 2.7 million, or 52 percent, of Cook County residents live in the city of Chicago, while the remainder live in the suburbs.

The idea of separating Chicago or Cook County from Illinois is rarely taken seriously, but it is hardly new.

Last year, the Chicago Reader’s “Straight Dope” column entertained a reader question arguing that if Chicago were severed from Illinois, the state would be “far less likely to have people like (Rod) Blagojevich for governor,” and conservative downstate residents would have their votes counted in national elections with the “blue streak” in Chicago eliminated.

But while the downstate Quincy resident was asking whether Illinois would be better off without Chicago, the columnist known as Cecil Adams instead argued that Chicago would be better off without Illinois.

In the often snide column, Adams explored the idea of cutting the nine metro Chicago counties loose. He pointed out that the new Illinois would be without 22 of the state’s 25 most popular tourist attractions, 80 percent of the state’s equalized assessed real estate valuation, all 18 billionaires, and “pretty much all the decent restaurants.”

Chicago would also get “virtually all the tall buildings,” while the new Illinois would be left with attractions such as the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, Adams wrote in the March 2010 column.

“So I think it’d work out for both sides,” he wrote. “We’d get most of the people, material possessions, and things that make life worth living. You’d get a state free of us.”

But the subject of separating Chicago from Illinois has not been limited to snarky contemporary newspaper columns. In 1925, there was a serious proposal in the Chicago City Council to secede from Illinois and form a new state.

The reference book Declarations of Independence by James L. Ewrin recalls that reason for the proposal was a reversal of the situation that Rep. Mitchell is complaining about. In the 1920s, lawmakers in Springfield refused to redraw legislative districts to take into account the city’s fast-growing population.

The City Council approved a resolution by Ald. John Toman calling for the city to secede from Illinois, and aldermen said they would give the state two years before they started moving toward secession, Erwin recalls.

State lawmakers ignored the threat, Erwin wrote. But proposals for Chicago or Cook County to secede periodically came up again, until the new 1970 state Constitution granted home rule to Chicago and other major cities, he wrote.

  • LOTD

    It would certainly put an end to the unionized, extortionized, liberal democratic stanglehold that this sorry state is in!!!

  • Bruce

    How are things in Decatur?

  • Major

    Why do visions of the Berlin Wall come to mind?
    …And that was built solely to keep people in.

  • john

    Lets save both Illinois and Indiana; make a new State with Chicago and Gary indiana… just think of it; all the coruption, murder, poverty and totally irrevelent schools under one supper corrupt Governmnet. And two really nice States side by side for the morons to envy.

    • Michelle Gill

      Yes, just think about it. We’d have all the money, infrastructure, manufacturing and culture. You would get…cow pies.

      • Vicky Kujawa

        You must be one of those Liberal idiots that ‘loves’ that dump you exist in.

      • D

        Actually you would be drowning in debt. Chicago and Cook County rely too heavily on the rest of the state.

      • Jim Hamilton

        Naw michelle see you forget one thing, Chicago is full of welfare patients it’s got no money

    • Vicky Kujawa

      LMAO JOHN!!!!!!! LOVE IT!!!!!

      • GSL

        Right, because those LOVELY cities like Rockford and Peoria are just pristine, crime-free bastions of incorruptibility and economic progress.

        A downstater calling Chicago a dump. Priceless. No wonder we all laugh at you.

  • LOTD

    Sorry folks, I have no idea what I’m talking about.



  • montclareresident

    We need to accept that the city, suburbs, and downstate communities provide mutual benefit to one another. Chicago’s whole financial industry began because of the fertile farms in central and southern Illinois and the location of large companies, such as Caterpillar, State Farm, ADM, and Jimmy Johns (to name a few) in small communities of central Illinois is due in part, because of the acessibility to Chicago. I think more than anything, people from downstate resent the starkiness of people such as Cecil Adams who ignore the contributions that the rest of the state provides to everyone’s general well being. Even the fact that we lump central, southern, and western Illinois all into the term “downstate” is irritating to Illinois residents outside of the Chicago metro area.

    • Jim Hamilton

      Naw its not what you take away from us we all know that we bring more to this state than chicago does it’s what you people in Chicago bring upon us. Chicago is a growing cesspool of raping, murdering, thieving criminals and welfare patience. We do not share your same political views the majority of the state is red.,_2010

      Just sign off on the sucession that you started. Your 2 years are up, get out of our state.

  • Darla


    • Tom

      lol… forgottonia… i think you and i are the only ones on this reply thread who know what the heck that is.

  • Tim

    “corruption (notice the second r), murder, poverty, and irrelevant (not irrevelent) schools under one super (sans the extra p) corrupt governmnt (spelled governm(en)t with a lowercase g).” Where is this “supper revelent” school you attended? They’re obviously not breeding morons!

    There are too many other glaring mistakes in grammar to point out. John you should seriously reconsiders your position and apply to one of the numerous universities in Chicago. So, you can attain some “learnin'” before posting moronic comments about the Chicago morons.

    • D


      Pot meet Kettle. Note the correct spelling should be reconsider. See how that works?

    • john

      Sorry… Chicago public schools at work.

    • Jim Hamilton

      Tim says “John you should reconsiders your position”
      as he is pointing out John’s gramtical errors. I’m not perfect but seems to me the old saying dont’ wory about the trash in my yard untill your own yard is garbage free. would apply here.

  • Roberta Waker

    What a great idea!!! Can’t think of too much good the City has done for the downstaters. What needs to be done is to split Chicago in half to keep some of the good stuff and get rid of the bad stuff. They think they own the State of Illinois and, unfortunately, for the most part, they do.

  • Lauren

    Maybe this guy isn’t all that crazy. If “Southern Illinois” (i.e., everything south of Interstate 80) wants to be their own state, I say go for it. Their tax collections will be close to nothing since the population is so much smaller without Chicago. I live in Rockford, and I certainly don’t mind being grouped with Chicago. Hell, if we split Illinois into two states, maybe Rockford would improve….doubtful, but one can hope.

  • jha

    more republican babble, by a Republican moron. Doesn’t he have more important things to do than making inane comments. He was elected to do something, not make dumb noises, like a Southern Illinois barnyard animal.

    • TOm

      Decatur isn’t southern Illinois… but I’m sure you knew that.

  • Justforfacebook

    I say go for it too… Why should I keep paying taxes that are going to southern Illinois??… I don’t go there and I don’t live there… Let them feel the pain instead of always living off of the northern counties…. I am personally fed up with the south derailing projects because they actually believe that their tax dollars add up to anything… It is high time they get schooled on who is paying for everything in this state, and it sure is hell not Springfield… Let their tax dollars pay for their schools, their roads, their police, their fire departments… That alone should break them… and if they still have a dollar left when they are done, then they can pay for the reconstruction of their own Crosses, instead of having the state pay for that too…

    • GSL

      Hear hear. Anybody who actually thinks that Chicago drains money from the rest of the state needs to take a math class (I’m sorry, do homeschoolers do that?). Much like everywhere else in the United States, the tax dollars from urban areas HEAVILY subsidize the rural ones.

  • Justforfacebook

    LOL… MontClare resident wants us to believe that life in Chicago began with Jimmy Johns….. OMG, have you ever heard of the stock martkets, and not the ones that you see a financial planner for… My god, someone actually believes that the financials of this state is due to farming…. The starkiness?? I think you mean snarkiness… as for your contributions, how about contributing to the reality of this state, and not the ignorance of your very own corrupt republican party… You think because you got one governor in trouble, that the republican party is the better of the two??… Let’s see… Since life began with Jimmy Johns in 1983, well just start with Governor James Thompson – and his illegal freezing of the all state positions, and holding meetings to only hire Republican friendly candidates… Or Governor Jim Edgar, can we say MSI??… and we all know about George Ryan… People were killed because of his corruption, and republicans blindly voted him in because of party and nothing nore… So please stop with your whining about how Chicago ruins everything for you… You have done it to yourselves, with your own party….

    • montclareresident

      Justforfacebook, apparantly you are a yuppie import from Iowa. In case you didn’t realize it, “montclare” is a neighborhood of Chicago (where I live)- so I’m not from what you declare as “southern Illinois” (which is actually only Springfield south). First off, clearly you are not from Chicago or you don’t know what you are talking about, because Chicago’s financial community is not equities (stocks). Chicago has the largest futures market in the world- New York has the largest equities market in the world. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange began as a commodities market (ie. corn, soy, agricultural produce). Which we probably won’t have for much longer because of your Democratic buddy Pat Quinn and his corporate income tax increase which has made the Chicago Mercantile Exchange threaten to leave the state. Also, if you read the other companies that I named: State Farm (largest personal casualty insurer in the country); Caterpillar (forturne 500 company); ADM (fortune 500 company)- all based in central Illinois- you’d realize that there is a lot of wealth being produced in the state outside of the city. I only mentioned Jimmy Johns because they will be moving their corporate headquarters outside of Champaign, because of your buddy Pat Quinn’s corporate income tax increase. Please don’t vote- you obviously know nothing. Be a true patriot and never, ever, ever, vote.

  • John Wozniak

    i would love to see it happen!!!!! and i live in cook county,,,,but i can move,,,,,,these monkeys are ruining everything and taking anything that isn’t nailed down……i don’t blame you for wanting to get rid of the stench!

    • GSL

      Hey, for all of you who don’t speak Republican, “monkeys” = “non-while people”.

  • Mary

    i live in chicago & i think this is a great idea,as long as they keep pat quinn.

    • Vicky Kujawa

      Nah, you can keep that crook in Crook County.

      • Vicky Kujawa

        After all, the dead Chicago voters elected him.

  • Jim A.

    How novel…….Let’s see; If you combine all the downstate tax revenues for the state of Illinois vs. paid by Chicago area residents and corporations, the rest of the state could be flushed down the toilet.

    Yes, Chicago has its’ faults, but c’mon..downstate Illinois is a sewage dump that takes far more taxpayer monies per resident than they pay. Farm subsidies and riverfront ghost towns like Cairo can flush into the Ohio River next spring.

  • zarathrusta

    I love it whenever the downstate stumpjumpers get this idea in their seed hats.

    What the heck would they do without the world’s busiest airport and transportation hub? The largest downstate growth industry is the local prison. They can’t even cut it without Chicago’s criminals!

    Just make sure the wall keeps the rubes out of Downtown. Ok, maybe they can come to the dentist – not that it will make a difference.

  • Lawmaker Wants Illinois To Secede From Chicago | Weird News

    […] What would be the economic impact of Cook County seceding from the rest of the state of Illinois? As of 2010, the gross state product of Illinois overall was $ 652 million. The Chicago area’s gross metropolitan product is $ 532 billion. As CBS Chicago points out, Illinois is home to about 12.8 million residents, of whom 5.2 million, roughly 40 percent, live in Cook County. […]

  • Donna

    Stupid, divisive idea from dumb hillbillies.

    If you’re that ineffective in Springfield, step down crybabies.

  • Sharon

    Good. Let them go. Who needs these wimpy hicks mooching off us in Chicago.

    Obviously these girly men have nothing better to do down there than propose sillly legislation.

    Chicago is the City that Works. Decatur must be the City that Whines. Please stay down there and eat your soybeans losers.

  • dby

    you know ‘i dream of jennie’ comes to mind. just blink and every @#$hole in office would just be gone.

    • GSL

      Sorry, Mister “I owe $100,000 in unpaid child support, and had no problem having my bouncers beat and kick a women on the floor” Joe Walsh would still be chugging along.

  • Lawmaker Wants Illinois To Secede From Chicago | Search The Earth Blog

    […] What would be the economic impact of Cook County seceding from the rest of the state of Illinois? As of 2010, the gross state product of Illinois overall was $652 million. The Chicago area’s gross metropolitan product is $532 billion. As CBS Chicago points out, Illinois is home to about 12.8 million residents, of whom 5.2 million, roughly 40 percent, live in Cook County. […]

  • Janet

    Let draw the line and Chicago can have there own state do it now and let be done with them .Well all of us hillbilly red neck have more heart them you up state snot nose b**ches.

    • GSL

      Yep, nothing like calling people “b**ches” to show how much heart you have! Classy.

      • patty

        I agree this chicago snot nose b has a huge heart. Illinois isn’t broke enough or do these idiots think we can become are own state and still give them the money.

  • M period

    Can anyone make an economic argument as to why Chicago should jump at this? We pay most of the taxes, we even have a fund outside the general fund in order to make sure downstate IL has roads, schools, and hospitals. If you make Chicago solely responsible for Chicago, you could cut our taxes 3 or 4 percent and we’d still have a balanced budget due the savings we’d make not having to support Central and Southern IL. Everyone can be proud of where they are from but do any of you have a real math based economic argument as to why Chicago losing central and southern IL would be a problem, depending on what the collar counties did, you’re talking about something crazy like 75-80% of the entire state revenue – where as we only something like half of that back through state funding sources while the rest of it goes to keep places like Decatur from not being Mississippi North (which is why it seems his main complaint isn’t economic – since they are basically an entire welfare county down there – but about stuff like wanting the death penalty and hating gay people)

    • Jim Hamilton

      The city violent crime rate for Chicago in 2009 was higher than the national violent crime rate average by 162.11% and the city property crime rate in Chicago was higher than the national property crime rate average by 39.94%.

      In 2009 the city violent crime rate in Chicago was higher than the violent crime rate in Illinois by 126.41% and the city property crime rate in Chicago was higher than the property crime rate in Illinois by 55.23%

      Now where do you suppose all of these criminals are being housed? Thats right down state prisons and by the time we get done charging Crook county for housing its overflow of cesspool refuges i think we could maintain our balanced budget and have a nice little proffit.

    • Jim Hamilton

      Chicago, IL, September 21, 2011—The Greater Chicago Food Depository released a study today providing first-ever community-by-community details in Cook County of the number of individuals who are food insecure. Data was gathered for all of Chicago’s 77 community areas and 119 Cook County suburbs. The new findings point to strong links between unemployment and food insecurity and to high concentrations in communities on the West and Southwest Sides of Chicago and in several Cook County suburbs. The study is based on Food Insecurity in the United States 2009, compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

      Hunger in America 2010: This landmark new study reveals an unprecedented number in Chicago and Cook County seeking emergency food assistance.

      Running on Empty: Nutritional Access for Children in Cook County: Identification of Gaps in Meals, Nutrition, and Food Delivery Systems in Cook County.

      • Jim Hamilton

        P.S. Those stat don’t even include the FBI’s Forcable rape reports from Chicago because they fall into a different catagory.

  • Jim Hamilton

    Best idea Iv’e heard all day and give Chicago their debpt package too.

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