Supporters of an initiative that would split the State of California into six pieces are out in force, collecting signatures at 140-odd locations throughout the enormous state. Proponents need to gather 807,615 signatures by July 14 in order to be on a ballot more than two years away.
Anna Morris of the Six Californias Initiative believes her state is too big to govern “be it Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jerry Brown as governor.” She is convinced California is in need of a “reboot.”
Venture capitalist Tim Draper wrote, and is financially backing, the initiative because he believes that schools, streets and waterways “could improve,” more jobs would stay within the new Californias and poverty would be lessened. He says that people residing in different areas of the existing state have differing priorities, such as water rights along the coast, immigration in the south and copyright law in Los Angeles. “California is ungovernable because they can’t balance all those interests,” he said.
Complication and expense would be intrinsic to any initiative that would split the world’s eighth largest economy (the State of California) into two – let alone six. For such reasons and more, a committee named OneCalifornia is in opposition. One of its founders, Joe Rodota, argues that fallout from passage and institution of the law could cost California businesses and taxpayers tens of billions of dollars. One of the many tasks that would be required is the documentation and division of the state’s assets and liabilities which alone, he says, will take decades of work and cost billions of dollars.
Rodota was an advisor to U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and a veteran of more than 40 statewide ballot initiatives. He points to two further complications and expenses: Families with children studying at one of the campuses of the University of California that is not in their new state would be forced to pay out-of-state tuition. Also, businesses with operations and employees in the various new states will be required to undergo the complication and expense of filing, and paying for, multiple income tax returns.
The initiative’s author, Draper, who is known for his investments in tech companies like Skype and Hotmail, says that the government of California is a monopoly and, as such “… they can charge whatever they want and provide whatever service they want. In a competitive environment people get good service and they pay fair prices.”
If voters approve the Six Californias Initiative it would then need the approval of the U.S. Congress. In that event, the new states would be:
West California: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo counties. South California: San Diego, Imperial, San Bernadino, Riverside and Orange counties. Silicon Valley: Eight counties near or at the Pacific Ocean, from Monterey County to San Francisco. Central California: Fourteen inland counties. North California: Thirteen counties, from coastal Marin east to Nevada. Jefferson: The 14 most northern counties of California. The idea of a state named Jefferson actually dates to 1941 when such a division would have included four counties in southern Oregon.
Literature published by the Six Californias Initiative states its belief that California is the most poorly managed of the fifty United States. “We need to refresh and reset the government to better meet the diverse needs and interests of all Californians.”
By Gregory Baskin