Is it possible that a 51st state will come through secession? How about 5 new states? Most analysts will tell you no, especially since such a thing would need to be approved by a Congress that could not even pass a resolution declaring the sky is blue at the moment. However, if one movement has its way, the United States will become a union of 55 states by dividing California into 6 sovereign states.The initiative is called "
Six Californias" and is currently collecting signatures to be on the November ballot for voter consideration. While some may roll their eyes at the proposal to divide California, the person behind the initiative, venture capitalist Tim Draper, insists that it's a serious idea to help alleviate some of the lingering problems the state and its citizens experience on a daily basis.
"What I'm proposing here is to bring us closer to our government," Draper said in an interview for San Jose Mercury News. "We are all better off with more local government -- local government is more efficient, it's more effective, it represents us better."
This is not like the White House petitions calling for the secession of various states. Draper believes this is a real solution to California's biggest issues -- from prisons to infrastructure to water shortages. If the government is closer to its people and vice versa, he argues officials will be able to commit funds and resources where it is needed most.
Here is how California would be divided:
- The most northern counties in California would make up the state of Jefferson. The proposed state in Northern California has been around since 1941;
- North California would consist of some North Bay counties;
- Silicon Valley would essentially become its own state. (no surprise a venture capitalist would propose this);
- Stockton, Fresno, and Bakersfield would become Central California's largest cities;
- West California would include Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara;
- The rest of Southern California, including San Diego, would become South California.
In order to qualify for the November ballot, Draper's initiative would have to get over 800,000 signatures by mid-April. Time is not the only thing not on Draper's side as a committee called "OneCalifornia" has formed to oppose the initiative. While some opponents of the proposal don't take it seriously, OneCalifornia is not dismissing it so easily.Specifically, the bipartisan committee focuses on economic concerns with splitting a powerhouse like California into so many states. They are legitimate concerns. If the initiative is approved by voters and by a snowball's chance is approved by Congress,
the division would create the wealthiest state in the union (Silicon Valley) and its poorest (Central California).
Since the economic landscape of California is already divided by the diverse industries that boost the state's per capita income -- currently ranked 12th in the nation -- there is little incentive to move forward with Six Californias. Each state would have to rely solely on whatever industry dominates that region. For some areas, like Central California, this could be disastrous.
Draper responded to these concerns by saying that where some see negative consequences, including what this could mean for state college students who may suddenly have to pay out-of-state tuition, he prefers to focus on the opportunities Six Californias offers:
“It is my hope that a Six State solution allows for a reboot on many issues including the chance to tailor colleges to the local community. This could include the ability for the various colleges and universities to allow for the Six state residents to pay in-state tuition just as we allow for dreamers and visionaries who were brought to this state from other countries.”