Election results this morning show strong support for the idea of splitting Illinois into two states. Voters approved referendums on the topic in Brown County by 77%, Hardin County by 76%, and two townships in Madison County (Lee 75% and New Douglas 68%).
This brings the total number of counties in southern and central Illinois to approve the measure to 27, according to a map released by organizers today. No counties have rejected the measure. The referendums are non-binding.
The referendums ask voters “Shall the board of your county correspond with the boards of the other counties of Illinois outside of Cook County about the possibility of separating from Cook County to form a new state, and to seek admission to the Union as such, subject to the approval of the people?”
Earlier, Illinois state legislators introduced legislation regarding the idea, and were granted a hearing, but the bill failed to clear the legislative committee.
State legislators in Kentucky and Missouri have expressed interest to the organizers about annexing downstate Illinois to their own state by moving a state border, but are waiting for a response from downstate Illinois state legislators.
There would be financial benefits to northern Illinois to allow downstate Illinois to go, because these counties are a drain on the state budget. Yet, a financial comparison of rural Illinois counties to rural Indiana counties shows that incomes are the same. Apparently the beneficial effect of state spending that Illinois bestows on these counties is canceled out by the negative effect of Illinois taxes and regulation.
The most recent relocation of a state border was in 1999 when the Nebraska/Missouri border was adjusted slightly to accommodate changes in the course of a river, but two whole counties switched states after West Virginia became a state in 1863.