'Six Californias' Bill May Hit Ballot, Californians Divided in Campaign to Split Golden State

( [email protected] ) Jul 16, 2014 05:15 PM EDT
Six Californias
Editorial cartoon by SW Parra. A lampoon take on the potential ballot initiative to break California into six separate states. AP

Californians may be allowed "to reboot and refresh our state government," as Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper plans to split California into six states. His proposition has thus far received an estimated 1.3 million signatures-making it eligible for the November 2016 ballot.

"We are ready to make a change," Draper said Tuesday as he delivered some of the signatures collected for his constitutional amendment to the Sacramento County registrar of voters. "We're saying, make one failing government into six great states."

According to NBC, Draper has invested $5 million into his efforts to get California split into six states. Under his plan, each of the six states would have its own government and own collection of elected officials, including congressional representatives.

"Six Californias gives us the opportunity to live in this glorious state and have great government services, too," he said.

However, while people have signed on to the idea, most political experts doubt the plan will ever come into fruition.

According to the latest Field Poll, 59 percent of those surveyed opposed the idea-and Draper himself could not respond when pressed on just how a plan that creates six smaller states with varying populations, resources and income would be good for all Californians.

Working out those troubles can cause more difficulties than the Six Californias initiative was designed to solve, said Corey Cook, an associate professor of politics at the University of San Francisco.

"It's a solution in search of a problem," he said. "There's a mythology that this just provides a fresh start, but how do you disentangle 150 years of fiscal controls and arrangements?"

According to the proposal, water agreements would be between separate states, and fire stations, state parks, office buildings and even state vehicles and other equipment-which are spread unevenly across California--and would have to be considered in any split of the state.

Speaking from Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Orange County) says the proposal is unwise.

"I'll be voting against that ballot iniative in California," she said. "One of the great things about having a state like ours, is it's so diverse in people, different industries and economies. I think together we're the sum of the parts is so more than breaking up the state."

However, others in the state are frustrated by the government and are not entirely writing off the idea.

"It's a complex issue but an interesting one," said John Lane of San Francisco.

NBC Bay Area political consultant Larry Gerston agrees, noting that while many potential problems may arise from the plan, the government should not write off the massive following Draper has collected with his proposition.

"You wonder if it might pass because so many people are so fed up with government," he told NBC Bay Area in a previous interview. "And even if it only qualifies for the ballot, it still speaks volumes."

Despite opposition, Draper insists that his proposition will only positively change California.

"Nearly 1 in 5 of us is living below the poverty line; our prison population has quadrupled," he said. "Our state's technology lives in the 1980s, and our roads and freeways are starting to crack."

"Now, it's up to you," he told voters.