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dir="ltr">Chicago’s incoming mayor says splitting Illinois into two states is never going to happen, but the sponsor of the resolution said it’s already started a conversation between leaders in different parts of the state.
Lori Lightfoot, who overwhelmingly beat Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle in last week’s Chicago mayoral race, visited the state capitol in Springfield on Wednesday. She visited with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and House Speaker Michael Madigan. She also gave an address to the Illinois House, where she talked about fixing the city’s finances.
Later, she was asked about House Resolution 101, which would request Congress make Illinois two states. She said “God bless” and that it would never happen.
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“Obviously, we’ll watch it,” Lightfoot said. “But I don’t have any concerns of any secession effort actually taking hold.”
The sponsor of the resolution, state Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, said his measure had sparked an important conversation among leaders throughout the state. The resolution asks "the United States Congress to declare the City of Chicago the 51st state of the United States of America and separate it from the rest of Illinois."
“Well she talked in her speech about when Illinois thrives, Chicago thrives, and right now the rest of Illinois is not thriving,” Halbrook said. “There are isolated pockets that are, but by and large the rest of Illinois is not thriving. I think we need to have a discussion about what it does take to make the rest of Illinois thrive.”
To those who have concerns about Chicago dictating policy to rural areas of the state, Lightfoot said she’s willing to talk.
“I’m going to look for opportunities to reach out to people out below I-80 to make sure that we build good relationships and I think we started that today,” Lightfoot said.
Halbrook said he’s willing to talk, but Chicago is going to have to come around.
“They refuse to talk about reforms to grow the economy,” Halbrook said. “We have to grow the economy by bringing employers into our rural districts.”
Halbrook said his resolution, which now has five sponsors, is doing what he wanted it to do – start a conversation. The measure remains in the House Rules committee where it’s expected to remain for the remainder of the session. Regardless, Halbrook said it’s working.
“Already we’re seeing the effects of the resolution all the way to the mayor’s office and to the new mayor’s office,” Halbrook said. “I think we’re seeing that happen and that’s what we want to have happen.”
Lightfoot is set to address the state Senate on Thursday. She will fill the office being vacated by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.