Californians are one step closer to casting votes in November to decide whether the state will remain as is or be broken into six separate states.
The “Six Californias” campaign announced yesterday it submitted 1.3 million signatures to the state for a ballot initiative that would divide the Golden State into six separate states, pending approval from Congress. The initiative needed more than 800,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot in November 2016.
Tim Draper, a venture capitalist who has been a vocal proponent of the plan, released a statement that called on voters to start a dialogue exploring the possibility of six Californias. Draper said:
“Californians understand the current structure doesn’t work. California, this is your opportunity to get a better government. We understand that kind of change can be hard for people to imagine. We pushed this initiative to November 2016 because wrapping your mind around this kind of fundamental change takes time and it is worth having an extended conversation.”
Draper said that in the last 40 years, California’s government has fallen from best to worst in a variety of social and economic measures. The state’s education system dropped from first to 47th, he said. Roughly one in five Californians live below the poverty line, and it is the worst state to do business in.
“Six Californias gives us an opportunity to improve our schools, our roads, our waterways, our business and jobs climate, our prison system and our economy. It gives us the opportunity to live in this glorious state and have great government services too,” he said.
If the measure is passed by California voters in 2016, each divided state would establish its own capital and legislature and write its own constitution. The six proposed states are: Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, Central California, West California and South California.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a February poll conducted by the Field Research Corporation found 59 percent of Californians opposed the idea of creating six states.
Steven Maviglio, a Democratic strategist and former press secretary for Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, criticized the measure in a statement. He said:
“This is a colossal and divisive waste of time, energy, and money that will hurt the California brand, our ability to attract business and jobs, and move our state forward together. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Draper is putting his millions into this effort to split up our state rather than help us face our challenges.”
Maviglio and Joseph Rodota, a former cabinet secretary for former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, joined forces to create the group OneCalifornia in opposition to Six Californias.
California’s secretary of state must now verify the initiative’s signatures before it is officially approved for the 2016 ballot.