How Illinois Counties Can Join a Neighboring State

This proposal is different from secession because it is simply a shift in borders that does not affect the balance of power in the US Senate. It does not create a new state or increase the number of states.

Borders between states have been changed many times in US history. If a deal were made that both state legislatures pass, it would almost certainly become a reality.  According to a peer-reviewed law journal,  “Prior to 1921, 36 compacts between states were put into effect with the consent of Congress; virtually all of these settled boundaries between contiguous states.”  Source: 

The most recent example was land transferred from Minnesota to North Dakota in 1961:

West Virginia was admitted to the Union in June 1863.  The Virginia/West Virginia border was moved in August 1863 to annex Berkeley County to West Virginia, and then again in November 1863 to annex Jefferson County.

This proposal presents options for Illinois to change its borders with neighboring states to put conservative counties on the other side of Illinois’ border.

According to our polls, central/southern Illinoisans are not willing to continue paying $257/month in extra taxes for the privilege of having their counties in Illinois instead of a neighboring red state.  And northern Illinoisans are not willing to continue paying $23/month for the privilege of having poor, Trump-voting counties in Illinois that don’t pull their weight in paying Illinois taxes.  But neighboring red states are willing to accept these counties.

Advocating a border change is better than creating a new state because proposals to split Illinois into two states are unlikely to happen; Democrats control the Illinois legislature and will always be unwilling to create a state that will send two Republicans to the US Senate.  No matter whether Chicagoland secedes from downstate or downstate secedes from Chicagoland, either way one state would be able to send Republicans to the US Senate. This proposal does not do this. 

It might be possible to create a new state out of Illinois in exchange for the creation of a new blue state elsewhere, so that the US Senate would have 104 seats, but it is quite questionable that the US Senate would favor the creation of those states or approve the dilution of the power of a Senator to 1 in 104. From the point of view of US Senators, giving extra senators to every state that is willing to become multiple states is a dangerous precedent that would weaken the voice of their own state. This is all the more dangerous today, when progressives are looking for ways to ameliorate their disadvantage in the electoral college. (The number of electors states may send to the presidential electoral college is equal to the number representatives and senators those states have.)

Why the Illinois Legislature is Likely to Approve this Deal

Illinois (IL) counties would need to agree to take their share of IL’s state debt. These debts and unfunded liabilities are already owed by each citizen of IL, so it is not really a cost of the border change.

Illinois is counting on its current population to pay the pensions for state employees. IL counties would need to agree on a scheme that would compensate IL for the loss of its population, by agreeing to pay into the pension fund according to a schedule.  If they join a neighoring state, such as Indiana (IN), IN would need to avoid forcing the new counties to pay for the portion of IN state pensions that were already earned before the counties joined IN.   

IL’s legislature would not approve the deal unless the per capita income of the group of annexed counties is less than the per capita income of IL.

By letting relatively poor counties go, Illinois’ average income becomes much higher.  The state government of Illinois has found that downstate Illinois is a financial drain on the state budget. This is because only five IL counties have a higher average income than the state does, and only one is downstate.  Making the average income higher by reducing the number of poor counties in the state would not actually increase a resident’s income, but it would help the state government’s finances to the point that the state could reduce tax rates, or at least reduce the budget deficit.  This effect is very large and would pay off every year. 

One of the options presented below would increase the per capita personal income of Illinois by $2973 per year.  At an average marginal state tax rate of 5.7%, this would save Illinois residents $168 per resident per year in taxes.

If a state legislature hesitates, each departing county of IL might agree to pay a certain amount to a state treasury to sweeten the deal. Each county could take out a loan to pay this sum on the date of the border change. For each county, this “redemption fee” would pay for itself in multiple ways:

  1. The economy of these counties would improve freed of IL regulations and taxes, as neighboring states are more business friendly.  Especially environmental and fracking regulations.
  2. The improved economy and the gun rights (being more conducive to rural living) would increase the value of land.
  3. Taxes in neighboring states are lower, saving more money for these counties.  WalletHub added state and local taxes on income, sales, and property by state in April 2018 and got (per capita): Illinois $5464, MO $3576, KY $3568, IN $3865.  Even worse, the amount Illinois collected was not even enough to make its budget balance, so Illinois will have to increase its tax rates in the future to start balancing its budget. 
    Therefore, counties that leave Illinois can save an average of almost $2000 per person annually. In fiscal year 2017, state taxes of all kinds collected per resident were: IL $2967, MO $2044, KY $2673, IN $2708. This does not include service fees, tuition, county taxes, or federal taxes.  These numbers are not as disparate because Illinois forces counties to handle more responsibilities than other states, which helps the state government fiscally.

The loss of a large amount of land should not concern the state legislature because there is no state property tax. A state legislature cares about the per capita or per household income of an area because this indicates whether this area is a net contributor or net drain on the state government.  State government revenue comes almost entirely from income taxes and sales tax (see pie chart below).  Corporate taxes are projected to be only 5.8% of state revenue in 2019.  As far as the state budget is concerned, people and their incomes matter, not land area. The only thing Illinois has to lose is the satisfaction of seeing a large footprint when they look at a map. 

This proposal also increases the power and sovereignty of the areas that remain in Illinois because it eliminates the political influence of the counties that leave the state.

By letting conservative counties go, this deal makes the position of the Democratic Party stronger in Illinois, so that state legislators won’t have to deal with a Republican governor again.  The prevalence of Trump voters in Illinois would be reduced. The Illinois electorate would shift slightly to the left.  One option presented below would have reduced Trump’s share of the Illinois vote by 16.5%, or 6.4 percentage points, from 38.8% to 32.4% of the vote.  Central/Southern Illinois has 1.7 Trump voters for every Hillary voter, and southern Illinois alone has 2.5! 

This proposal would not significantly affect presidential elections because it does not affect swing states such as Iowa and Wisconsin, but rather Illinois and optionally Indiana, Kentucky, and Missouri.  None of these four states have come close to deciding a presidential election in generations because they are not closely balanced.  If a Democrat (like Obama) wins a red state such as Indiana, he has already secured the election with swing states such as Iowa, and therefore the win of Indiana is inconsequential.  If a group of options is chosen below that affects moves 754,000 people out of Illinois, then Illinois would lose one electoral vote in the elections after the following census, but this is insignificant since there are 538 electoral votes in the country.  Most of the options in this proposal involve fewer people.  This proposal would not increase the power of either party in the US House of Representatives or in the US Senate.  All four congressional districts in southern/central Illinois are already held by Republicans.

The groups of counties changing to another state in this proposal voted very heavily for Trump.  Their departure will reduce the partisanship in Illinois. There is a popular secession movement in downstate Illinois.  Most county governments in downstate Illinois have approved “sanctuary county” resolutions expressing their will to defy any more gun control from the state and refuse to enforce new gun laws.  More gun control is surely coming now that Democrats have control of the governor and supermajorities in the legislature.  Allowing these counties to leave reduces the chance of unrest and makes Illinois more harmonious ideologically on issues of gun laws, abortion, immigration, and justice. 

To pass this proposal, we need a coalition of northern Democrats and southern Republicans. The Illinois House of Representatives is 61% Democrat. Democrats in northern Illinois would be expected to be in favor of this proposal. The Senate is much easier as it is 68% Democrat. Illinois legislative districts have a very large number of constituents. The border change would reduce population of Illinois. After the border change, the size of the districts could be reduced or the number of districts could be reduced.

In addition, on the Republican side of the legislature, some legislators live in these downstate counties. They would have a bright future as legislators for the neighboring state after the border is revised. Neighboring states have smaller legislative districts than Illinois does, whether or not they increase the number of districts after the border change. Neighboring states would be certain to eliminate the Democrat bias in gerrymandering of downstate districts.

A Facebook poll of northern Illinoisans found 67% are in favor of this proposal

Because Democrat lawmakers of northern Illinois are more concerned with primary elections than general elections, this poll was only advertised to residents that Facebook categorizes as “liberal” or “very liberal.”  To prevent a non-random sample from voting, this poll was not posted to a page.

Why the Neighboring State’s Legislature is Likely to Approve the Deal

  • Financially: The maps presented in part 2 of this proposal only include options where a neighboring state is receiving a group of counties that have an higher average personal income than that state’s average.  This means that they are likely to pay more than their share of state taxes and receive less than their share of state assistance. The options presented in part 1 of this proposal are designed to ensure that a county would not be a drain on state finances.

    Also, these counties are likely to experience economic growth when freed from blue-state regulations and blue-state taxes.  This growth will make these counties even better taxpayers and reduce unemployment.

    The Illinois Basin contains huge amounts of shale oil and natural gas.  Several developers have given up trying to obtain permits from the state.  The New Albany Shale development alone can support tens of thousands of high-paying jobs. Notice in the image below that the “Illinois Basin” is only tapped in Indiana and Kentucky.
  • Politically, these counties benefit the majority party of each state (the Republican Party).  So state legislators are less likely to have to deal with a Democrat governor or US Senator, and more likely to remain the party in charge of the legislature.   
  • State law is based on a sense of justice that comes from tradition and culture. Neighboring states will recognize these Illinoisans as fitting their own cultures and sense of justice and law. Culturally, central/southern Illinois fits IN, KY, and MO much better than it fits Chicago. The southern two-thirds of IN, IL, and MO, as well as all of KY were settled by people whose ancestors came from the Appalachians through Kentucky according to Colin Woodard’s book Eleven American Nations.  This is why they have a “country” accent.  The southern tip of IL has a southern accent, as does Kentucky.  Meanwhile the culture of northern Illinois comes from New England.

The dominance of Appalachians and even Southerners in central and southern Illinois was recently confirmed by a DNA study using the largest DNA database in the world (  They come from Northern Virginia (in red) and southern Virginia (in purple).

Accent is not important but it reveals which counties have been more connected relationally and culturally over the centuries. The dialect of the vast majority of the population of Illinois is a dialect of American English called Inland North that is not the dialect of central or southern Illinois, as shown on the map below shaded green.  Most counties in central and southern Illinois speak a dialect known to linguists as Central Midland which is spoken by most Hoosiers and Missourians (shown in white).  The southernmost counties of Illinois speak southern dialects (shown shaded orange and salmon) that are spoken by Kentuckians, and some Missourians and Hoosiers. Culturally, central and southern Illinois shouldn’t keep trying to share a state with Chicagoans. 

Long-Term Benefits. A recent Reuters poll shows thatone third of Americans expect civil war in America within the next five years.  No one knows the future, but everyone knows that political structures don’t last forever.  It is unlikely that red states and blue states would choose to remain in the same federation after a crisis. It is possible that blue states and red states of America will part ways to provide a peaceful end to the culture wars.  If this occurs, it will be even more important that state borders match hidden boundaries between the traditional and the Leftist cultures, ideologies, worldviews, and lifestyles.  This deal is a step in the right direction. 

Facebook polls of neighboring red states found at least 80% are in favor of this proposal

Why Central/Southern Illinois Wants to Escape Chicago’s Grip

This deal gives central/southern Illinois freedom.  The economy of central/southern Illinois should increase dramatically after coming under red-state law because, compared to Illinois, red-state law is business-friendly, lower tax, and suitable for agriculture and the oil and gas industry.  Property values would increase.  We explained above that taxes are about $2000 less per person in Indiana, Missouri, and Kentucky. The red counties don’t want the big-spending welfare state that Chicagoland forces on them. They will be happy to have state spending like a red state’s. Wages would increase and cost of living would decrease. For those not making minimum wage, wages are set by supply and demand for labor in the local area. Demand for labor would increase because red state law and regulations are more conducive to business and hiring. Cost of living would decrease because red states have less demanding laws and regulations on home building and businesses.

More gun control is surely coming now that Democrats have control of the governor, and supermajorities in the legislature.  Allowing these counties to leave reduces the chance of unrest. 

Central/southern Illinois does not want to be a part of a “sanctuary state” for unvetted illegal aliens.

The state government will always be run by Democrats.  Of the 11 members of the Democrat leadership of the state House of Representatives, and 9 members for the Senate, only one lives south of any of the lines drawn on the maps below. This means that 95% of the state leadership lives in “northern” Illinois as we define “northern.”  Only 5% of the leadership of the state represents the central/southern part of the state which is 22% of the population of the state.

Illinoisans commandeered a poll of Kentuckians and shared it. From organic growth alone virally (more than 2400 shares as of March 11, 2019), so far 17,000 have voted in that poll, with 83% in favor of making their counties a part of Kentucky. That poll is here:

Also, 4300 people Illinoisans voted in a Facebook poll to make their county a part of Indiana in March 2019, and 90% were in favor of this proposal. Some of those who voted against the proposal are Republicans living in northern Illinois. The poll is here:

Central/southern Illinois has been experiencing depopulation as citizens move to Indiana.  For example, the population of south eastern Illinois declined by 3.9% between the 2010 census and the 2017 census estimate.  This proposal allows them to remain in their communities, with their friends, families, employers, and shops to experience the benefits of red-state law. 

Illinois home values are 12% below the pre-recession value. Values in Missouri are now 2 percent higher than they were just before the 2007 recession. Indiana’s home prices are 8 percent higher and Kentucky’s are up a full 13 percent. (source:
It’s much worse for central and southern Illinois because the kind of people who would want to live in rural counties won’t want to move into an Illinois county until it becomes a part of a red state. But plenty of Illinoisans want to leave.

Some of the options in this proposal include counties whose residents often commute to work across the state line to Terre Haute, Vincennes, or Evansville Indiana, or St. Louis MO, or Paducah KY.  Because of proximity, St. Louis has much more influence than Chicago over vast swaths of Illinois, except when it comes to government.

As examples of how some counties of eastern Illinois are well connected to Indiana, notice these visualizations of all AT&T cell phone texting over a period of weeks.   The Illinois counties shown are Clark and White.  Unfortunately the boundary lines for the states and counties are incorrectly located 20 miles to the west of the fill colors.

Some southern counties are well connected to Kentucky.  Here is call data for Massac County IL and Wayne County IL:

Implementation of this Proposal:

The Illinois legislature might choose to allow a referendum (plebiscite) to confirm that the area affected is in favor of the deal.  These counties should have a single collective referendum as a group, not as individual counties.  If this suggestion is not followed, and one county in the middle votes to oppose, it would be stranded in the middle of counties that voted to join a neighboring state. 

Next Steps

If you favor this proposal, join the Facebook group for discussing this proposal and making it happen. It’s called Downstate Illinois Secession:

The only way that the borders of Illinois can change is if some readers choose to become activists. In addition to sharing the idea with friends and Facebook groups, call your County Board members (county commissioners) to ask them to put this on the 2020 ballot, and collect signatures for the petitions. Don’t expect other people to do this for you. Own your county or get left behind!

As of December 2019, six county boards have already voted to put this question on their county ballots for 2020. Ask your county board members to put a nonbinding question to the voters on the ballot about moving state borders.  After you’ve talked to them, call your county clerk and ask her to put it on the agenda for the next County Board meeting.  Show up with your friends to explain why you favor this.

By Illinois law, the number shown on this map is the number we need to get in one county to force a county to put a question on that county’s ballot. A group called Illinois Separation is leading the state effort. At least 4 or 5 counties already have enough signatures.

The petition is available for download by clicking on this address:

Buy some 8.5 by 14 inch paper (legal size) and start collecting! Or have your local copy store print it to that size. Don’t write any sheet numbers on them.

We should gather signatures for their petition even though the wording doesn’t quite fit our preferred strategy of moving state lines. The good thing is that getting this on the ballot will prove that normal voters will vote for separating from Chicago.

Imagine the moral high ground we will have when voters in many counties vote that they want their county to work on separating from Chicago. We need several more counties to make a big statement. This will add pressure on our political leaders to start getting serious about moving state lines. We’ve still got months left, so imagine how many counties we could get!

You can join your county’s Facebook group here so that you can keep up to date on the local progress.

When collecting signatures, use this website to make sure the voter enters the same name and address that he has on his voter registration so that their signature will not be disqualified:
Don’t screw up when you collect signatures. The rules are in this short video:

How to fill out a petition in Illinois.

• After you download your petition, and you go to print your copies, you will need to set your printer to Legal Format. This will require you to have 8.5 by 14 paper stock. Your standard 8.5×11 paper will NOT work for this.

• Print your Petition, take a picture of it, and send it to the Illinois Separation so that we may confirm that it is correct. (We do not want anyone going through all the effort to collect signatures only to have the petition printed in the wrong size.)

• If you wish to save time, you can fill in the county name on your document on the computer, before printing, or it can be written in by hand so long as it is printed and legible.

• You may fill out all your information on the petition, excluding your signature and the Notary information. It is very important that you DO NOT SIGN the petition until in the presence of a Notary.

• At the very bottom of the petition is a section for numbering the petition. Leave this section blank.

• Each petition must be signed in front of a Notary by the person who collected the signatures. All signatures on an individual sheet must be collected by the same person, and in person. You will not be able to leave the petition at a location to be picked up later. • We are getting quite a few notary’s stepping up willing to donate their time for us, and we will be working with them to meet up with petitioners.

• All individuals that sign a petition must be a registered voter in the State of Illinois, and for the county on which sheet they are signing for the signature to be considered valid. If they say they aren’t registered but would like to sign, please encourage them to register to vote, and followup with them after they have done so.

• For each signature to be considered valid, all information must be filled out for the signer, and the information must be legible. Incomplete or illegible information will be considered invalid, and the signature may be thrown out.

Ultimately the only peaceful way that separation can be accomplished is if people help show northern Illinois Democrats that moving state lines benefits them (by freeing them from “low-income Trump-voting counties”). But we also need to prove to them that downstate Illinois is willing to join another state. We have one of the biggest political Facebook groups in Illinois.

The next step is to find out if Democrats in the Illinois state legislature favor this proposal.  Contact Democrat state legislators in northern Illinois and Republican state legislators in neighboring states.  Also contact the Republican legislators whose districts are covered by this proposal. Send them a link to the document you are reading now:   

In Spring 2019 there was a bill to make a 51st state in the Illinois Assembly but it failed to get more than about 8 legislators on board. Now it’s time for legislators to write a better bill based on our proposal (that won’t add senators to the US Senate).

Find your legislator:





How Central/Southern Illinois Would Pay Its Share of the State Debt

Let’s take the example of joining Indiana. Since the per capita debt of the state government of Illinois is $12,500, the government of each county of central/southern Illinois would take on its per capita share of Illinois’ debt as a part of this deal.  However, because they would be as responsible as any other Hoosier for Indiana’s $7700 per capita debt in the future after joining Indiana, Indiana would compensate the government of each county $7700 per capita.  These counties would be left with a debt of $4800 per capita which could be paid off with the issuance of county bonds, which could be paid off with a temporary county income tax.  Indiana has a system that allows counties to have their own income tax withheld from paychecks.  Kentucky has a state debt of $8400 per citizen, and Missouri’s is $7300 per citizen.

Illinois tax rates are higher than Indiana tax rates.  The average Illinoisan pays $1600 per year more in state and local taxes than the average Hoosier ($1900 more than Missourians or Kentuckians).  If they choose to pay off their debt over the course of several years, these counties can pay off their $4800 mentioned above, and pension obligations, and still have much lower tax rates in Indiana than they do in Illinois. And after their debt is paid off, they would experience another drop in tax rates.

$4800 should not be seen by Illinoisans as a cost of switching governments.  It is an already-existing debt that Illinoisans would eventually have to pay even if they remain in Illinois.

The $7700 per capita cost to the State of Indiana is not really a loss to the State of Indiana, because the new Hoosiers would be obligated to help pay for Indiana’s pre-existing debt in return, along with other Hoosiers.

Illinoisans have often bailed out City of Chicago finances, so escaping Illinois will definitely save money for the new Hoosiers in the long run.  For example, Illinois recently bailed out the CPS pension system with $221 million.

No one will be forced to become an Indiana resident, because they can move before the deal takes effect.

Explanation of Financial Aspects of the Border Options

Since neighboring states will only want to receive groups of counties that have higher per capita personal incomes (PCPI) than their own state average, there are only a limited number of options.  Less than half of downstate counties meet that criteria even for Kentucky, whose PCPI according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) was in $40,957 in 2017.  Few counties are higher than Indiana’s $45,150 or Missouri’s $44,978.  For Part 2 of this proposal, we identified these counties and then added in the minimum number of counties necessary for a neighboring state to become contiguous with these counties.  Since Kentucky has a lower average income than Indiana or Missouri, it would willing to take more Illinois counties of moderate income than Indiana or Missouri would. 

When poor counties leave a state, the border change doesn’t increase anyone’s income, but the average income of the remaining counties is higher.  This allows taxes to be reduced on the remaining counties to maintain the same per capita government spending. In the options below, the effect of the border change on average PCPI of the state is shown. Depending on the marginal tax rates on income, corporate income, property, gambling, luxury, and sales, the effect of a $300 increase in PCPI might be to reduce the tax burden on the whole state by $30, $50 or more per person, assuming tax rates are reduced to account for the influx of funds.  If the tax rates are not reduced, at least the state can delay future increases in taxes.

Many of the counties that are “poor” by Illinois’ standards (having a PCPI less than the IL average) have a higher PCPI than a neighboring state’s average.  This means that by changing a border, both states can achieve a higher average income.  This seems counter-intuitive, but it is not getting something for nothing.  The counties that don’t move are suddenly in a state that has a higher ave, but it is the counties that leave Illinois that are the counties that are suddenly in a state with a lower PCPI than before.  Nevertheless, most counties want to leave Illinois because taxes, regulations, and corruption are lower there.

Although we used 2017 US BEA PCPI, the following map using 2013 US Census data on per capita income seems to match pretty well.  Missouri has some sparsely populated counties with low incomes, but its average income matches Indiana’s.  The darker the green, the higher the 2013 US Census per capita income.

In the options presented below, the effect of the border change on state PCPI is given.  The PCPI’s used are three-year averages from 2015-2017 according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. The three-year averages for these states are: $52775 IL, $43801 MO, $43683 IN, and $39676 KY. In the tables below, “ave annual tax benefit to each resident of current state from income change” does not include the residents of the counties that are switching to a new state.  It also doesn’t include other benefits.  It simply calculates the effect of the increase in average PCPI on the finances of the state government on a per capita basis.

The 2017 PCPI of each county is indicated on the maps of options by dollar signs.  After these maps were made, we discovered that many downstate counties have large state prison populations because state law prevents state prisons from being built within 100 miles of Cook County, even though 59% of state inmates are from Chicagoland.  After discovering this, we shifted to using an average of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 PCPI for the portion of each population that is not an inmate in a state or federal prison, or a state Treatment and Detention Facility.  We made this adjustment because these inmates’ living expenses are paid for, but the expenses are not included as income. After we made this adjustment, we updated the tables but not most of the maps.  The counties that now deserve a single dollar sign on the map are: Brown, Marion, and Johnson.  Crawford and Clinton Counties now deserve two dollar signs. Stark County no longer deserves its dollar sign.

How much will these counties cost their state government?

A 2018 Paul Simon Institute SIU report described a 2017 Illinois legislative report based on state taxation and state expenditures in 2013. The data is not very usable for determining which counties are a net drain on the state because it includes spending on prisons, state universities and community colleges, mental health facilities, etc. Prisons, universities, and mental institutions are a very significant portion of the state spending in the counties covered by the maps below. Such spending is done in a single county, but not because that county is especially needy. Those institutions serve needs of people from far beyond that county. By state law, Illinois prisons are all built more than 100 miles from Chicago.

If the border is changed, Chicago would probably continue to send its prisoners to the current prisons because it should be cheaper than building new prisons. The cost of the prisoners would be paid by rump Illinois, not the new state that the counties have joined. Illinois public universities are quality institutions that don’t need government subsidies to survive.

Moreover, southern Illinoisans should not assume that this gravy train will continue if they remain with Illinois. The era when northern Democrats needed the votes of southern Republicans to increase state spending will not return. The future of state spending will be very focused on Chicagoland.

We looked at US BEA data on personal income due to government transfer payments to individuals by county.  Unfortunately it does not differentiate between federal, state, and county government.  Social Security and pension payments are earned income. We tabulated data on means-tested “income maintenance benefits” which are mostly federal programs (SSI, EITC, TANF, SNAP- food stamps).  We also tabulated data on means-tested public assistance medical care benefits, which is mostly a federal program called Medicaid. We found that Central/Southern Illinois receives less per capita than the Indiana or Missouri averages (which are $2400/year) and much less than the Kentucky average ($3100/year average).  This shows us that Central/Southern Illinois may not cost their state governments much. On the other hand, the poverty rate is a little higher than the Indiana or Missouri averages (which are 13.3% and 13.4%), but still lower than the Kentucky average (17.1%).  The employment rate (not unemployment rate) is a little lower than the neighboring states’ averages. You can see these numbers in the table at the end of this document.  We weren’t surprised that the poverty rates and employment rates were a little worse than in Indiana and Missouri because the PCPI is a little worse too.  That’s why many of the options below intentionally choose the counties that have above average PCPI.

Because the cost of these counties to the state is not known, we chose to use US BEA PCPI to determine whether a county would be a benefit to a state.  Using PCPI is better than using the Census household income data because it is a more complete picture of income.  The average age of Southern Illinois residents is probably higher than average, but retirees live off of earned retirement income and investment income, even though they aren’t employed.

Explanation of Political Aspects of the Border Options

The other limiting factor is that the majority party of neighboring states’ legislatures (the Republican Party) would reject groups of counties that are less Republican than their own state average. This prevents northern Illinois from being considered.  Kentucky has 1.91 Trump voters for every Hillary voter, so the Republicans in its legislature would not be willing to take as many moderate Illinois counties as Indiana (1.51) or Missouri (1.49) would.  Fortunately the vast majority of counties in central/southern Illinois are more conservative than the Kentucky average.  In the maps below, counties were marked as more conservative if a larger percentage voted for Romney and Trump.  If they voted less for one, but much more for the other, then they were still considered more conservative.  The Trump election was weighted twice as strongly in this calculation than the Romney election because the Trump election had more to do with identity and loyalties.

The tables below present the percentage point change in 2016 Trump vote.  They also present the percent change in the proportion of the vote that would have been taken by Trump in 2016 if the border were changed. In other words, if the border change would make Illinois voters 30% Trump voters instead of 40%, the “pct pt change” is 10 percentage points, but Trump’s share of the Illinois vote would be 25% less than before. This is a comparison of the actual Illinois vote with what the vote would have been in Illinois if Illinois no longer had those counties in 2016. Also, a “pct pt change” of 10 means that the difference in results between Dem and Republican would change by 20 percentage points, if third parties don’t benefit.  For example, the results would switch from 60 Hillary / 40 Trump (a 20 percentage point difference) to 70 Hillary / 30 Trump (a 40 percentage point difference). Trump actually got: IL 39% IN 57% MO 57% KY 63%.

None of the border options presented below significantly diminish Illinois, because Illinois has a population of 12.8 million residents.  The populations of neighboring states are: 6.1 million (Missouri), 6.7 million (Indiana), and 4.5 million (Kentucky).

Counties are a creation of the state. State legislatures have the power to unilaterally split counties or change their borders.  This proposal does not consider this possibility, but it would be helpful to split a county in some cases. For example, in some options below, the eastern halfof Marshall County IL could join Indiana. Illinois might want to make minor adjustments to county lines for practical reasons, or to smooth the border (to make the shape of the state boundary more contiguous).
Where State Borders Should Change, Part 1: The “Paid” Options

In Part 1 we present options for poor counties to be included in this border change that would otherwise be excluded.  These border options are called “paid” options.  A neighboring state should accept these poor counties if the county agrees to pay extra state taxes to remain revenue-neutral to the state they are joining.  Such a county could have a county income tax or additional county property tax, transferred to the state, to make up for the previous year’s shortfall in per capita state taxes collected in that county, and to make up for excess state-funded social benefits spent in the county.  The “paid” options work even if counties are subtracted from the map, but we don’t think it would be in the interests of a neighboring state to make the map larger than these options, according to our criteria described above (PCPI and partisanship).

This option has the biggest effect on the politics and finances of Missouri. 

This option allows the capitol and U of I to remain with northern Illinois.

This option is far less ambitious than the Paid MO option, but it still affects the politics of Missouri half as much.  It does not affect the Illinois state capitol in Springfield.

This option saves more Illinoisans from Illinois than any other, and is the option that most benefits Illinois both financially and in terms of IL political harmony. It also has the greatest benefit to Indiana finances.  It’s our favorite option because of the population.  The Illinois electorate remaining in IL would be only 32.4% Trump voters.  That’s still more than D.C., Hawaii, California, and Vermont, but now less than New York, Maryland, Washington, and Massachusetts.

The options above (Paid MO and Paid IN Pop) could be expanded further if the state legislature of Illinois modifies some county lines. The new state line shown below is drawn on a map of Trump’s election results by precinct. The line was drawn also referencing Romney’s results. By adding southern LaSalle County, it becomes natural to add Putnam and Marshall Counties. Also added are portions of Will, Kankakee, Fulton, and McDonough Counties. The section of Grundy County that falls north of the Illinois River is subtracted.  Below are Romney’s election results.

57% of state representatives are Democrats whose districts are well north of this line. 14% of state representatives are Republicans whose districts are completely south of the line. Republicans whose districts are split should add at least another 1%, totalling 71% of the House. If we assume that 89% of the Republicans south of the line vote for it, we only need 64% of the Democrats north of the line to vote for it.

In the senate, we only need 89% of the southern Republicans and 58% of the northern Democrats.

Here is the expanded version of the option called Paid IN Pop on a political map:

This option has the biggest political benefit for Indiana of any option.

The option below, called PAID D, makes both MO and IN significantly more conservative. It has two parts: PAID IN D (which doesn’t have to be a “paid” option) and PAID MO D. The average income of the blue part is the same as the IN average (almost).

This option allows IL to keep its capitol. Springfield would continue to have lots of state employees because the population of IL would only decline by 20% in this option. Some state employees would get jobs working for the state governments of IN or MO. The increase in population of each state would be a manageable 19% for Indiana and 20% for Missouri.

This option puts Illinoisans who are closer to St. Louis in Missouri, and Illinoisans who are closer to Indianapolis in Indiana. It unites both sides of the Wabash River Valley culture into Indiana, and it unites both sides of the Mississippi River Valley into Missouri. The maps show suggested partial counties added or subtracted, but the calculations use whole counties.

Option Paid D has the advantage of leaving Menard and Sangamon counties in IL, so that they can continue to administer state business in situ.  This is also true of the next option, called “S IL Minus Springfield”

If Illinois wants to keep both Champaign County and Springfield IL, but give away counties to the north of Champaign, there are multiple options.  In the “Paid Enclave” option, Champaign County simply remains a part of Illinois even though surrounded by Indiana. 

The “Paid Notch IN” option is shown here:  

Where State Borders Should Change, Part 2: The “Unpaid” Options

“Unpaid” options don’t ask any counties to make the kind of financial deal described in Part 1.  Instead, groups of counties are described below that have a per capita personal income (averaged from 2015-2017 according to the US BEA) that is above the average of the state it is joining. Some of these options are barely above the average income of the state it is joining, so adding one more poor county would prevent the group from being above average. Because the border counties of Illinois are mostly poor, there are only a few ways to form groups of counties that are above Indiana’s or Missouri’s per capita personal income.

The option called “S IL Minus Springfield” increases the population of Kentucky by 40%.  This means that current residents of KY would only be 71% of the constituents of the new KY US Senators.  This is the option that increases the average income of Kentucky the most: by $432. 

This is the only option that threatens the conservatism of Kentucky state politics. Kentucky’s status as a red state in national politics would not be threatened, but the Republican Party might be diminished at the state level. Although this option would have improved Kentucky’s Trump vote by 0.18 percentage points, it would have decreased Romney’s vote by 1.33 percentage points.  This means the gap between Romney and Obama would have been 2.66 percentage points less: 20% instead of 22.7%, making the results 59.2% to 39.1% instead of 60.5% to 37.8%.  Romney has met derision since losing to Obama because of his outspoken opposition to Trump and Trump’s policies and his pandering to the Left.  However, on his election day, he was widely viewed as conservatism’s best hope, so it should give Kentuckian Republicans pause that this area of IL only had 1.35 Romney voters per Obama voter, when Kentucky had 1.6 Romney voters per Obama voter.  Still, for MAGA fans, this part of IL has 1.97 Trump voters per Hillary voter, as compared to Kentucky’s 1.91.  The 2016 election was more revealing than the 2012 election because it was more about values and identity.

For the people of northern IL, this option is the best of the options in part 2, both financially and for political harmony in northern IL.  It affects the largest population of any part 2 option.

Combo F is the combination of “S IL minus Springfield” and “Paid IN F”. Paid IN F adds two counties to Indiana (Iroquois and Vermillion). Paid IN F is a part 1 option.

This option provides the most benefit politically to Kentucky.

This option maximizes the population that can join Missouri without lowering the average income of Missouri, and without being a “paid” option. 

Unlike Monroe X, this option can be used even if Indiana encroaches from the east because it doesn’t constrict the shape of IL too much. Jersey County and Union County were not considered because each is 8 or 9 miles away from a bridge to Missouri.  Neither Jersey County nor Missouri has a bridge directly to Calhoun County, but Greene County has two.

This option has the greatest financial benefit to Missouri of all the options in Part 2.  Illinois would not allow Monroe County to leave alone because its average income is above the Illinois average. Only when paired with another county does its departure increase Illinois’ average income.  The fewer the counties that are added to Monroe County, the higher the financial benefit to Missouri and the lower the political benefit. Pike County could be a good alternative to Adams because it has a strong secession movement.

Of all the “unpaid” options, this option has the greatest financial benefit to Indiana.

This option adds Lawrence County so that this option can be combined with certain Kentucky options without narrowing the shape of Illinois too much at Lawrence County. This option adds the most people to Indiana of all unpaid options.

This option has the greatest political benefit to Indiana of any option in Part 2, although it can be combined with the White County option to increase the benefit. It does not include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Appendix: Combination Options and Data Table

This is the combination of 3 unpaid options: Monroe Z, NW IN Annex, and S IL –Far W –W –N. Other combinations are possible. 

FAQ: Why didn’t you include northern Illinois counties on your map?

Contiguous northern Illinois counties do not vote as conservatively as the red states that neighbor Illinois.  Red states’ legislatures would not want their state to become less conservative.  Also the Illinois legislature would not want to donate counties that vote Republican to a swing state such as Wisconsin or Iowa for fear of helping Republican presidential candidates.

8 thoughts on “How Illinois Counties Can Join a Neighboring State

  1. Why didn’t you include any options for border counties to move into Iowa?
    I would like all the counties north and west of Knox County, (including Knox County) to transfer over to join “Greater Iowa” jurisdiction. 🙂

    1. I don’t think Iowa would want counties with a lower average income than Iowa has. Also, the Dems in the Illinois Legislature don’t want to make a swing state like Iowa redder. And their approval is required as long as we’re following the law.

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