A venture capitalist who feels colossal California is too unwieldy to govern is proposing to split it into six separate states, and Secretary of State Debra Bowen has given him the green light to start collecting petition signatures.
Tim Draper filed a ballot initiative in December stating that because of recent social and economic changes California has become "nearly ungovernable."
He proposed dividing California into six states. 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.
"California as it is is ungovernable," Draper told ABC News today. "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, and states can get a refresh".
Brendan Nyhan, Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, isn't sold on the idea. "Splitting California into six states would raise all sorts of concerns about the partisan balance of the senate. I can't imagine this would ever go anywhere" said Nyhan.
Nyhan says a plan like this would surface many issues. Things like water policy, agricultural policy, and even the electoral college would all change if this plan were to take action.
The plan aims to settle California's financial issues after the separation of the states. If things can't be resolved, each state would receive a portion of the state's debts based on the newly created state's population.
If the federal government approves creating six new states, "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 on Tuesday.
That would leave decisions regarding taxes and public spending of the new states up to its elected leaders.
If California were its own separate country, it would have the eighth-largest economy in the world.
In order to make this plan a reality, Draper needs to start collecting signatures in order to qualify the petition for a ballot. He needs the signatures of 807,615 registered voters in 150 days, making his deadline July 18, 2014.
"We are going to put together a grass roots effort to get signatures," Draper said. "It looks very promising since there are already several movements to create new states here".