SPRINGFIELD -- State Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, has signed on as co-sponsor of a bill that intends to kick Chicago out of Illinois and make it the 51st state.
House Resolution 0101 appeals to the United States Congress to sever Chicago from the rest of Illinois.
The bill was introduced by State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, on Feb. 7. McCombie signed on as a co-sponsor April 11.
"That's a bill that's been around for years," McCombie said. "It's a political bill; I didn't think much of it, and all of sudden it's getting all of this play. It's about reminding Chicago and Cook County legislators that there's more to Illinois than just Chicago. It's just a statement.
"I understand the good things Chicago brings to Illinois," McCombie said. "I just want to remind them there's a whole lot more to the state than just them."
McCombie said she was walking by Halbrook's desk in April when he asked for her support and she agreed.
The introduction of the bill reads, "the state of Illinois is often regarded as having two distinct regions, the city of Chicago and downstate Illinois. The divide between the city of Chicago and downstate Illinois is frequently manifested in electoral results such as the 2010 gubernatorial election in which the Democrat candidate won the election despite only carrying four counties out of 102 counties, and, in fact, did not need to carry any other counties to win because of the margin of victory in Chicago and Cook County."
The resolution continues, "the city of Chicago is frequently treated as a separate region of the state and has often been exempted from major legislative initiatives the General Assembly enacts in law because of this fact."
The bill cites other reasons for dumping Chicago, claiming the majority of residents in downstate Illinois disagree with Chicago residents on key issues such as abortion, gun ownership, and immigration, and says dissension between Chicago and the rest of the state spans the state's entire 200-year history.
This dissension, the bill states, has caused downstate residents to refer to themselves as the "Republic of Forgottonia."
The resolution also targets the state's new evidenced-based funding formula for school districts across the state, which former Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law last year. The bill allocates more state funding for schools in poorer districts. Republicans often criticized the bill, calling it a "bailout" for Chicago.
"The city of Chicago is often bailed out by taxpayers in the rest of the state, such as the $221 million bailout for the CPS (Chicago Public Schools) pension system that was signed into law last year," Halbrook's resolution states.
McCombie is a chairperson of the House Republican Organization’s political action committee, which raises money for House campaigns.
According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, HRO has accepted millions in donations from donors and corporations in the city of Chicago.
"Those dollars were before my time as HRO chairman," McCombie said. "The majority of HRO are downstate members. We as a state, should be collectively working together. I hope that's why (Chicago) donors are investing in HRO."
The bill has been referred to the rules committee, where it likely will remain until the new legislative session begins in November.
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