We understand the meaningless gesture by some state legislators from our area suggesting that a cleaver be taken to the Illinois map, separating Chicago from the rest of us.
But that's all it is: Meaningless. It isn't going to happen, no matter how good it feels to spout off about it now and then. We often feel that Chicago doesn't "get" us. We certainly don't always get the urban complexities of Chicago from our perch amid the rolling hills of central Illinois.
State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, filed a resolution this month appealing to the United States Congress to separate Chicago from Illinois and make it the 51st state. It was co-sponsored by State Reps. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, and Chris Miller, R-Robinson.
Halbrook told SDU reporter Kaitlin Cordes that he's bringing attention to the disconnect between the Chicago area and the rest of the state. Well, that sort of attention has been brought before and no doubt will be brought again.
A study last year by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale noted:
"This red county versus blue county history is especially evident in Illinois, where our politics are marked and marred by regionalism. It is so prevalent that fairly often some angry pundit or politician will advance the perennial idea of dividing Illinois into two states, Chicago and the downstate region, ostensibly in order to free the rural areas from the burdens of Chicago.
"… It is an idea that has been around for much of Illinois' history and that refuses to die, no matter how impractical it is."
Halbrook put it this way: "They make financial decisions and policies that don't follow what the rest of the state wants."
Halbrook said the resolution is also meant to spotlight what he calls "intrusive and overreaching" regulations. He identified gun regulations, saying that issues with gun dealers in the Chicago area should be policed there and that Chicago politicians should refrain from forcing such regulations on the rest of the state.
Here's the thing: Pretty much everybody who lives in Illinois takes a dim view of state government and how it reflects their values, priorities and general outlook.
The SIU study polled residents across Illinois with this question: "How much attention do you feel state government pays to what the people in your community think when it decides what to do?"
Statewide, just 5 percent responded "A good deal." In Chicago, 7 percent said that. Downstate, it was just 3 percent.
Statewide, 70 percent said "Not much." In Chicago, that answer captured 72 percent of the answers. Downstate, it was 73 percent.
An eye-opener in the study looked at the revenue generated in taxes in Illinois counties compared to the money those counties receive from the state.
Cook County – where Chicago is located – gets back just 80 cents for every dollar it sends the state, according to the study. In that respect, Effingham County is similar to its northern counterpart: It gets back just 84 cents for every tax dollar it sends the state.
But Halbrook's own Shelby County gets back $1.44 for every dollar it sends. Clay County, where Bailey is based, gets back $1.84.
To find the full study, google "The politics of public budgeting in Illinois."
We're not oblivious to the frustrations felt in this area, which often seems a sea of red in a state of blue. But talk of jettisoning Chicago is akin to that old saying about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
To Halbrook, Bailey and Miller we say: Carry on the good fight for us in Springfield. That's how representative democracy works. And it can be done, even in one as diverse as Illinois.