This week Venture Capitalist Tim Draper’s Initiative to divide California in to six states received approval to start collecting signatures. Now the US Constitution requires that the State legislature and the US Congress both have to approve, but of course West Virginia didn’t really go that route, so there is still some legal ambiguity there. Sharing statehood with the Bay Area frustrates me as much as anyone here, so I decided to see what this could mean for San Diego. To help sift through the data I found that the the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has put out a report on the split.
San Diego County would be part of ‘South California,’ I’m not a fan of cardinal directions in state names so the name doesn’t fire me up. But our county will be in there along with Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. It would be the second largest of the proposed six states with 10 million people. Reviewing the LAO report there is a lot of info how the Bay Area’s high income dot-coms subsidize the much of the state. We all know how that money has strings attached since Sacramento is full of Bay Area Democrats who spend a lot of time thinking how to make the rest of the state just like their San Francisco Shangri-La. But on the fiscal side ‘South California’ comes out fairly balanced statewide. At the county level, Orange and San Diego residents may find themselves footing more of the bill for programs and services in Riverside and San Bernardino . But where things get real interesting is the political side.
I cobbled this graphic to see politically what kind of a state I would be in. Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties look like good company. In fact they all have higher GOP registered voters and voted higher for Meg Whitman in 2010. I’ve been skeptical about dividing California but if things come to pass it might not be bad for us after all.
Of course there is a huge hurtle in getting the federal government to approve the split. They still haven’t resolved Washington DC’s congressional representation or Puerto Rico’s. Like the debate in the 1800’s over balance of power in Congress, no one is ready to add more Senators. Really the best plan is to decentralize power away from Sacramento and give it to the counties. That might be where Draper should take this. What are your thoughts?
Elliot Schroeder is Vice-Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of San Diego.