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Chicago mayoral candidate open to conversation of making city its own state

SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) -- While the chief sponsor of a resolution urging Congress to make Chicago the country’s 51st state doesn’t expect it to go very far, he does expect it to spur conversation. A Chicago state representative who’s also running to be Chicago mayor is willing to have that talk.

State Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville, says his House Resolution 101 is getting a lot of attention.

“People from all over the state are calling or emailing,” Halbrook said. “It’s creating quite a stir. Tons of activity on social media, shares and comments, I haven’t seen something like this in quite some time.”

The measure, which is similar to one he filed last term, would urge Congress to split Chicago from the rest of Illinois and make it the country’s 51st state.

“We see this growing disconnect between the northeast corner of the state the rest on the social issues and the financial policy that’s made here in Springfield,” Halbrook said. “Just a growing disconnect.”

Democratic state Rep. LaShawn Ford, who’s running in a crowded field to be Chicago mayor, said Chicago generates billions of dollars in economic activity for the rest of the state. And with expanded gambling and cannabis legalization in the cards, Ford said Chicago would keep all of that revenue if it were its own state.

“If they want to have a serious discussion about who benefits from the separation, I think they may want to reconsider because Chicago may benefit,” Ford said.

As the state eyes generating more revenue by expanding gambling and legalizing cannabis for recreational use, Ford said Chicago would reap those benefits, not the rest of Illinois.

“We are about to embark on some major revenue enhancements in this state and I don’t think [Halbrook] understands what he’d be giving up,” Ford said.

While some Republicans complain the rest of the state bails Chicago out for public education and other things, Halbrook said it’s not just finances, but also gun regulations and even the minimum wage. He said it seems policies are too often dictated from the Windy City, not from Springfield.

“There’s just a lot of differences throughout the state of Illinois and this is one of them and I just think it’s a discussion that we ought to have,” Halbrook said.

Ultimately, Ford said Chicago and the rest of the state are stronger together but he’s willing to have a conversation.

Halbrook’s bill remains in committee and he doesn't expect it to go very far.

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