The latest campaign to separate Chicago from the rest of the state is trying to enlist the Libertarian Party's help to try to make its longshot bid become reality.
Collin Cliburn founded the Illinois Separation movement to carve out Cook County and become the state of Lincoln. He will be speaking at a McLean County Libertarian Party event at Crawford’s Corner Pub in Bloomington at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Cliburn, a carpenter from Menard County, calls himself a Republican with libertarian leanings. He said downstate Illinois has suffered through largely Democratic rule for too long.
“Our (U.S.) senators are constantly liberal, Chicago elects (statewide offices) by themselves,” Cliburn said. “If you look at the (J.B.) Pritzker numbers (in the governor's race), they won by Cook County alone.”
Cliburn said a 2018 report from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University which declared downstate Illinois gleaned a disproportionately higher share of state tax dollars than Cook and the collar counties was “biased.”
He said some resources the state sends downstate are to serve Illinois’ prison population.
“That Paul Simon report kind of makes it sound like the citizens of these smaller counties should be responsible for the millions and millions of dollars that it takes for a state penitentiary to be run,” Cliburn said.
He also lamented the number of retirees from Cook County who retire and take their "fat" pensions elsewhere.
Cliburn said he believes he can prompt the change through a proposal he wants Congress to introduce called the Funding Loyalty Act, which would allow states to extract santurary cities such as Chicago from their state.
"It would allow the law-abiding portion of the state to break apart, therefore they could then punish the non-law-abiding portion of the state," Cliburn said.
Many downstate lawmakers have proposed separation plans in the past and they've gone nowhere.
The party's McLean County chairman Steve Suess acknowledged any effort to create a 51st state has little chance of going anywhere, but he said he wants to start a philosophical debate, something he said the party has succeeded in doing in the past.
“The Libertarian Party has supported cannabis legalization since 1971 when it was formed, and look at where we are now,” Suess said. “The Libertarian party has supported gender and sexual minority rights since it was founded. It’s first presidential candidate was openly gay.”
Suess said the county's libertarians haven't taken a formal stance on separation, but he endorses it.
He said Illinois' regional differences are too great to be governed by the same state legislative body.
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