The man behind the “six Californias” movement took his message on the road today, hammering the idea that “California isn’t working.”
“Something is wrong,” venture capitalist Tim Draper said at a news conference in San Mateo, Calif. “We have extraordinary people that are governing. It must be systemic.”
The solution, he said, is to split California into six separate states.
“What I’m proposing is to bring us closer to our government, to create six Californias so each of us has more contact, more influence on our state government,” Draper said. “This is an opportunity to claim the government back.”
Draper got the green light last week from Secretary of State Debra Bowen to start collecting petition signatures for a ballot initiative.
California is too big to govern, he contends, and splitting it into six separate states would make things more manageable.
“California as it is is ungovernable,” Draper told ABC News last week. “It is more and more difficult for Sacramento to keep up with the social issues from the various regions of California. With six Californias, people will be closer to their state governments.”
Draper filed a ballot initiative in December.
San Diego and Orange County would make up “South California.” “West California” would include Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, while Bakersfield, Fresno and Stockton would make up the larger “Central California.” San Francisco and San Jose would be in the new “Silicon Valley.” “North California” would include the Sacramento area, and “Jefferson” would be home to the Redding and Eureka areas.
To make this happen, Draper needs to start collecting signatures in order to qualify the petition for a ballot. He must collect signatures from 807,615 registered voters in 150 days — by July 18.
If he receives the needed signatures, and the votes, the plan would go to Congress. If Congress were to approve, many adjustments would need to be made.
“All tax collections and spending by the existing State of California would end, with its assets and liabilities divided among the new states,” Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a statement last week.
In the proposed plan, each state would receive a portion of California’s debts based on the newly created state’s population, leaving decisions regarding taxes and public spending of the new states up to its elected leaders.
But critics of the plan see a myriad of potential problems.
“Splitting California into six states would raise all sorts of concerns about the partisan balance of the Senate,” Brendan Nyhan, assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College told ABC News. “I can’t imagine this would ever go anywhere.”
A plan like this would raise many issues, Nyhan said, including water policy, agricultural policy, and even the Electoral College.
However, Draper said the change is necessary.
“Leaving California the way it is is a crime,” Draper said. “California has failed us.”
If his plan advances, he said, each of the six states will be better off.
“The whole idea is that even if these [six] states become average states in the U.S., we are way better off than we are today being the state that provides the least for the highest cost,” Draper said.