ILLINOIS (IRN) — One of the four state lawmakers behind a bill that would split Chicago off from the rest of Illinois says that while the measure was designed to spark conversation, support for a split could gain support if policymakers continue to push Windy City policies on the rest of the state.
For decades, the rules in Chicago and Cook County have been different from the rest of the state. Rules that apply to the rest of the state, don’t apply to the state’s most populous city. And many of the rules in Chicago don’t apply to the rest of the state. Lawmakers often do this by using language that only applies to counties with “less than 3,000,000 inhabitants.” Cook County is the only county in the state with more than 3 million people.
Chicago used to be the place in Illinois where the minimum wage was higher than the rest of the state and where there was a tax on plastic bags. It also has higher taxes on tobacco and gasoline and other things, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker in the governor’s mansion, one state representatives sees such policies spreading across the state.
Pritzker in his budget address Wednesday justified his rush to raise the statewide minimum wage.
“The current minimum wage is a lifetime sentence to poverty – whether you live in Chicago or Cairo – I find that unacceptable.”
Chicago’s median household income ($53,000) is more than double Cairo’s median household income ($21,600). And Chicago’s median property values ($244,000) are nearly nine times higher than Cairo’s ($28,500).
But the bill Pritzker signed last week has the entire state catching up with Chicago and moving to a $15 minimum wage by 2025, despite those differences.
State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, said policies implemented in Chicago are being forced on the rest of the state.
“People in our area, southern Illinois, they’re mad,” Bailey said. “Fifteen [dollars an hour], a tax on plastic bags? We’re headed to some serious problems in Illinois if this does not stop.”
Bailey said he hopes to host several Chicago-area lawmakers at his family farm to show them the differences between Chicago and the rest of the state.
Bailey is one of four lawmakers signed on to House Resolution 101, which would ask the U.S. Congress to make Chicago its own state. He said he signed on to the measure to start a conversation.
“I did that as a statement to Chicago to [say] ‘hey guys you need to wake up,’ ” Bailey said. “And I did that as a statement to southern Illinois to say ‘hey guys maybe we’ve got a reason to rally here and make a case.’ And I hope that that would gain some attention and stop some of this nonsense.”
Bailey said he feels the state is being “bombarded with these ridiculous ideas,” none of which his district will stand for. “They are cramming these ideas straight at us and it’s not good.”
“We’ve got a group of representatives here from southern Illinois with a whole different mindset, a whole different attitude, a whole different way of doing business,” Bailey said.
The other three state Representatives signed on to the measure are state Reps. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, Chris Miller, R-Oakland, and C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville.
Bailey said the measure was designed to get Chicago politicians to see the differences between the areas.
“But if these efforts are met with what’s being touted here with these extra taxes, then yes, at some point in time Illinois is going to have a tough situation to address,” he said.