Here’s a piece of advice for registered voters: When petition carriers accost you outside supermarkets, big-box stores or shopping malls asking you to help advance a plan to carve California into six states, don’t sign.
That’s because this is one of the dopiest, goofiest ideas ever to come up in California, which has a long history of flirting with – and sometimes adopting – nutty schemes.
This plan would create the nation’s wealthiest state – to be named Silicon Valley and to include most everything from San Francisco south through Monterey County – and also the poorest – Central California, including the San Joaquin Valley, with per capita income below even Mississippi’s.
You say you don’t like paying taxes to support two U.S. senators, a governor and a Legislature of 120 people? Well, get ready for 12 senators, six governors, all making well more than $150,000 per year, and hundreds more lawmakers at more than $100,000 each, including perks.
How about the state of Jefferson, including several Northern California counties that have flirted for decades with the notion of leaving California and joining some jurisdictions in southern Oregon? This one would not have a single University of California campus. Are residents there ready to pay out-of-state tuition of more than $36,000 per year for their kids?
You think it’s tough to get agreements on water policy today with one state and the federal government involved? Just wait until six bureaucracies are floating ideas on how to divvy up scarce resources.
Think you pay too much income tax now? If your pay comes from various parts of California, under this plan you might have to file income tax returns and payments in multiple states.
What if recreational marijuana were legal in, say, Silicon Valley, but not in some of the other new states? Californians could wind up in jail for bringing pot across the new state lines.
It’s true that venture capitalist Tim Draper, the man behind this initiative, which is now being circulated by his paid workers, has recognized some good ideas in the past. He made much of his money off early investments in things like Skype and PayPal.
Draper is also a libertarian. So maybe his real agenda here is to set up a situation where Silicon Valley firms like he’s backed can bring in all the cheap Asian labor they want, undercutting wages for qualified Americans.
By going the initiative route with this idea, Draper circumvents any need to get it approved by the current state Legislature, which would nix the idea in a moment. Instead, if this measure passed, only congressional approval would be needed to make it reality. In a climate where representatives of other states consistently vote to deprive California of its fair share of federal spending, Congress isn’t likely to multiply this state’s Senate seats by six.
But there remains the possibility that one major party or the other might see at least temporary political advantage in saying yes. There would be a strong possibility that at least three of the projected new states (Central California, Jefferson and South California, including Orange and San Diego counties) might elect two Republican senators each. If it became likely that another two GOP senators might somehow emerge, Republicans in Congress just might take to the idea.
So it’s up to Californians to stop this ludicrously flawed idea before its goes any further. The first thing they can do is refuse to sign petitions that aim to put it on the November ballot.
Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at email@example.com.