ALTON - A movement to form a new state separating the rest of Illinois from Chicago and Cook County, known as the “New Illinois” movement, is preparing talks with state legislators later this summer as they work toward achieving their goal, according to organization chair G.H. Merrit.
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Merrit discussed the movement’s roots and its overall purpose on an episode of Our Daily Show! on Riverbender.com.
“Our movement is about following the process provided in the U.S. Constitution to pursue the formation of a new state separate from the State of Illinois,” Merrit said. She clarified that they’re not trying to remove Chicago from the state - rather, they aim to remove the rest of Illinois and form it into a new state, New Illinois.
Merrit said the organization started about five years ago after she briefly considered moving out of the state, but ultimately decided to stay to take care of her parents while trying to fix the problems she saw with the state government.
“The corrupt politicians of Illinois are the ones that are really pushing people out of the state, and I just decided I’m not going to get pushed out of the state, I’m going to stay here and fight for my home,” she said.
Representative Brad Halbrook filed a resolution with the Illinois General Assembly when the New Illinois movement was first getting started in support of separating the rest of Illinois from Chicago/Cook County. Merrit noted that a resolution like this only needs a simple majority in the House and does not need to be voted on by the governor - according to the Illinois General Assembly, “A resolution does not change statutory or constitutional law and is not approved or otherwise acted upon by the Governor (and thus is not a law).”
While that resolution is currently tied up due to new House rules - and more Republicans seem to be in favor of it than Democrats - Merrit emphasized that this is not a partisan issue.
“I’d be lying to you if I said there were as many Democrats as Republicans supporting this,” she said. “But really, it’s not a party thing, it’s a regional thing - it’s ‘major urban area’ versus ‘rural, small town, and suburban’ Illinois. It just so happens that there are more people who lean to the red side in this part of the state than lean to the blue side.
“It doesn't matter what party you’re a part of, because nobody benefits if they don’t have representative government. Nobody benefits if they have a corrupt government, and nobody’s going to benefit when Illinois goes over that financial cliff that it’s headed towards.”
She added that one Democrat in the state legislature said they were willing to have a conversation on the topic, so Merrit said they’re planning on hosting a forum on the subject sometime later this summer.
Merrit acknowledged that downstate Illinois by itself would not have an adequate population or GDP to support itself as a state, but also clarified that the movement is not focused on just “far-southern” Illinois, but the entire rest of the state - including her home county of Lake County near the Wisconsin border.
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