California has become too large, says Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who is pushing a proposal to split the nation’s most populous state into six smaller pieces.
California has grown so big and so inefficient, it is essentially ungovernable, according to a ballot initiative that could reach voters as early as November.
“Vast parts of our state are poorly served by a representative government,” according to Draper’s plan, which cleared a key government hurdle this week, part of the process to qualify for the ballot. California residents “would be better served by six smaller state governments.”
In an interview Thursday, Draper said he has seen a state once regarded as a model slide into a gradual decline – many public schools are in trouble, transportation, water and other infrastructure systems are outdated, spending on prisons has drastically increased.
A new group of states could remedy this, he said, competing and cooperating with each other.
Without change “it will get worse,” he said. “California is not working.”
“It’s certainly fun to talk about,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. But “its prospects are nil.”
The state has proven reliably resilient against attempts to split it up, dating to the era of its founding back in 1850. Over the years, many proposals have come up suggesting California should be split to two states, or three, or four.
If it were to be approved by voters, Congress would have to endorse the idea of creating six new states – and adding 10 senators to the chamber’s political mix. Congress, per the U.S. constitution, must approve the creation or division of any states.
“I don’t think anyone is going to give California 12 Senate seats,” Sonenshein said.
In the proposal, Los Angeles would become part of the new state of West California, which would also include coastal cities such as Santa Barbara and Ventura. The farming heartland would become Central California. San Diego would be the largest city in South California.