This November, California residents will vote on a controversial ballot measure to divide the state into three separate regions.
“Three states will get us better infrastructure, better education, and lower taxes,” argues proposal sponsor Tim Draper, who has tried twice before to divide the state. “States will be more accountable to us and can cooperate and compete for citizens.”
Draper insists that large areas of California are “poorly served by a representative government dominated by a large number of elected representatives from a small part of our state, both geographically and economically.”
Draper’s plan calls to split the state in half laterally to form Northern and Southern California. The third state, which would retain the name California, would be a much smaller region along the coast centered around LA.
The proposal, which has gained over 420,000 signatures, would also add four new Senate positions. This could be a good thing for underrepresented Republicans in California, but it could be a bad thing if all six seats fall into the hands of Democrats likely to band together on certain issues.
If the proposal passes in November, it will have to be approved by both houses of the California legislature (which is unlikely) and by Congress. From there, it could be challenged in court.
If the separation actually occurs, California would be the first state to divide itself since Virginia split into two states in 1863.
Draper's proposal is opposed by a group called “NoCaBreakup,” whose members fear the split would harm poor regains and benefit rich areas that generate most of the state’s tax revenue.
“This measure would cost taxpayers billions of dollars to pay for the massive transactional costs of breaking up the state, whether it be universities, parks, or retirement systems,” says opponent Steven Maviglio. “California government can do a better job addressing the real issues facing the state, but this measure is a massive distraction that will cause political chaos and greater inequality.”
Author's Note: Lawmakers and politicians have tried and failed to redivide the state of California more than 200 times since 1850, and it is unlikely that Draper’s proposal will succeed.