A plan to split California into six separate states? Wait, what? The billionaire venture capitalist behind the idea said he has collected enough signatures to get the proposal on the 2016 ballot.
Timothy Draper, a founder of a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm that has invested in Twitter, Skype and Tesla, has been pushing for months for a statewide ballot initiative to break up the country’s most populous state, according to Reuters.
“It’s important because it will help us create a more responsive, more innovative and more local government, and that ultimately will end up being better for all of Californians,” said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the campaign. “The idea ... is to create six states with responsive local governments—states that are more representative and accountable to their constituents.”
The Six Californias’ campaign announced Tuesday that it had collected 1.3 million signatures for the proposalto submit to the state.
According to SFGate:
The measure, a constitutional amendment, needs 807,615 valid signatures to qualify. Because the deadline has already passed for November, the plan could end up on the November 2016 general election ballot.
Here’s how Draper’s plan would divide up the state:
- Jefferson: Would include the northernmost part of California, including Humboldt and Butte counties
- North California: Includes the state capitol of Sacramento and the wine counties of Napa and Sonoma
- Central California: Essentially the central part of the state, including Stockton and Fresno
- Silicon Valley: Includes the state’s tech hub (San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland)
- West California: Includes Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties
- South California: Includes San Diego, Riverside, and Orange counties
Here is a map from USA Today that shows what California would look like under the plan:
The initiative aims to reset what it calls “the worst managed state in the nation” by creating six states that will “better meet the diverse needs and interests of all Californians,” according to the campaign’s website. The campaign claims having six states will give Californians better representation and local governments that are more responsive to issues such as jobs, roads, schools, and public safety.
“Californians understand the current structure doesn’t work,” Draper said in a statement. “California, this is your opportunity to get a better government.”
Opponents of the Six Californias campaign believe the plan will hurt California.
“This is a colossal and divisive waste of time, energy, and money that will hurt the California brand,” Steven Maviglio, a Democratic political strategist who formed OneCalifornia with GOP strategist Joe Rodota to fight Draper’s plan, told Reuters. “It has zero chance of passage. But what it does is scare investment away... at a time when the Governor is leading us to an economic comeback.”
The campaign’s proposed state boundaries may also raise issues about water distribution, political representation, as well as access to agriculture and commerce.
The plan could also lead to the creation of poor states and rich states.
A report released in January by Legislative Analyst’s Office in California found the Six Californias plan would create the richest state in the country (Silicon Valley) and the poorest state in the country (Central California).
Silicon Valley would have the highest income levels, and Central California and Jefferson would have the lowest income levels, according to the report.
Silicon Valley’s [per capita personal income (PCPI)]—$63,288—currently would rank as the highest among U.S. states ($3,600 above Connecticut, but still below the District of Columbia). Central California would rank as a leading agricultural producer. Its PCPI and that of Jefferson, however, would be notably lower than the PCPI of the other four new states. Currently, Central California’s PCPI would rank last among all U.S. states (about $150 below Mississippi).
These income disparities would also translate into different tax bases, and the regional disparities would affect various fiscal and policy decisions of the six states, the report found.
The report also outlined various issues that could arise regarding public schools, higher education, prisons, and health and social services.
According to the SFGate report, 59 percent of Californians surveyed in February said they opposed the proposal, which would also need the approval of Congress and the state legislature.