Governor J.B. Pritzker addresses the crowd during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new MCT administration building.

MADISON COUNTY - During a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the new Madison County Transit building on May 23, 2024, in Pontoon Beach, Governor J.B. Pritzker said he was “disappointed” with the Madison County Board’s decision to put an advisory referendum on the Nov. 5 ballot.

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The referendum will ask Madison County voters if the Madison County Board should “correspond” with other county boards “about the possibility of separating from Cook County to form a new state.” The Board voted 15–7 to put this referendum on the ballot during their regular meeting on April 17, 2024.

“Businesses and families want to set down roots here, and state government works with you to help make that happen. Working together fuels our ability to get big things done,” Pritzker said during his remarks on May 23. “That’s why, honestly, I was disappointed to learn that the County Board had voted to put an advisory referendum on the ballot questioning whether Chicago and Cook County should be forced out of Illinois. So I want to speak to that for a moment to address the misinformation that led to that and to remind us all of what Chicago has meant to Madison County and vice versa.”

According to Pritzker, an SIU Carbondale study showed that “the Chicagoland area pays for the bulk of the benefits the rest of the state receives.” Additionally, people in the Chicago area receive “about 80 cents back” for every dollar they pay in state taxes, while the southern third of Illinois gets “almost $2.”

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Pritzker also noted that 71% of the funding for the new MCT administration building came from state funding. He said this is one example of the many projects aided by state funding.

“That likely means this building wouldn’t exist without the taxpayers of the rest of Illinois subsidizing it,” he added. “This is just one in a long line of projects funded by state government that benefits Madison County residents.”

Pritzker said he was recently in Edwardsville for the groundbreaking of the new SIUE Health Sciences building, which was partly funded by a $105 million state investment in the SIU system. In the past year, he said, Madison County students have received “millions of dollars in scholarships and support services…that were largely paid for by the taxpayers of the rest of Illinois.”

He also noted that “incentives provided by our state, including in large part the taxpayers in Chicago,” led to Wieland North America’s recent decision to modernize the East Alton facility. This followed a $3 million state grant to “help restore and revitalize downtown Alton.” Since 2019, Illinois has invested “nearly $600 million in infrastructure improvements in Madison County,” Pritzker added, pointing to I-270 bridge replacement as an example.

“I mention these things not because Cook county is more important than Madison County. It is not,” Pritzker concluded. “Instead, I simply want to remind everyone here that we are one Illinois. Madison County is just as important to our state as Chicago is. It’s also, frankly, too easy to let partisanship and regional differences divide us. Instead, let’s all go in the same direction.”

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