Guest Commentary | New Illinois movement about returning power to people

Guest Commentary | New Illinois movement about returning power to people

By BRAD HOLBROOK

Earlier this year, I continued a conversation about the values, vision and policies of our state by introducing a resolution calling to separate from Chicago.

I am glad The News-Gazette has joined that discussion. Unfortunately, they've misinterpreted the legislation and its intent.

The New Illinois movement that is gaining momentum across the state is about returning power to the people.

Most of us can agree that Illinois' government isn't a model of good government. Having the longest-serving speaker in the history of America isn't what other states should look to replicate.

Earlier this year, a report from the University of Illinois in Chicago found that Chicago was the most corrupt big city in America. No one wants to see that scaled to state government.

Yet Chicago Democrats, from House Speaker Michael Madigan to Gov. J.B. Pritzker to Senate President John Cullerton, sit at the highest levels of state government, and they are forcing their corrupt Chicago model on all of us.

The question is what do we do about it?

One possibility is separating from Chicago, as my resolution suggests.

As this search for solutions continues, it is necessary to clear up one common misconception.

It is, of course, true that downstate and central Illinois receive more direct state-level spending than income-tax dollars we pay. But this simple data point leaves out who actually benefits from that spending.

For example, tax dollars that flow to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign are actually used to subsidize the education of students from throughout the state of Illinois.

A fair study would show that the benefit of higher-education spending is less to the county hosting the institution and far more to the residents of the counties sending students to those institutions.

Families are mad about the taxes they pay, and rightfully so. But that is not all.

Central Illinois families, and families throughout Illinois, are tired of politicians who think they know what is best for us.

We are tired of intrusive and overreaching Chicago-style regulations that demean our way of life, destroy our economies and devalue our culture.

We are tired of Chicago values that outlaw gun ownership while providing taxpayer funding for abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel once said, "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values."

But Chicago values aren't Illinois values.

If you look up Chick-fil-A's website, you'll find their purpose is to "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A."

That sounds a lot closer to the values so many families throughout Illinois live by every day.

Far from being a divisive message, as the editorial board suggests, our resolution is a message of hope and unity. We are not splitting from any one county; we are asking voters what they prefer: current Illinois or a new Illinois?

The purpose of this resolution is to show the disconnect between the cultural elites in the northeast corner of the state and the rest of us, whether you are in Chicago, the suburbs or downstate Illinois.

The separation movement is a question about the direction of our state. Will we continue to scale the corrupt Chicago model, or is it time for a new Illinois?

Brad Halbrook is a Republican member of the Illinois House of Representative serving the 102nd District.

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