Referendum to break up California likely to make ballot this year

Could it be true? Yes, they’ve gotten our hopes up too many times in the past, but this time even some of the skeptics think it could happen. There’s work taking place in the Golden State which is well financed and expected to succeed in gathering enough signatures to advance a ballot initiative to split up California. Previous efforts to break up the state into either two or as many seven different sections failed. But the new plan calls for three Californias and they won’t need as many signatures as previous campaigns required. It sounds like the choice may finally be put before the people. (LA Times)

If the “Three Californias” measure qualifies for the ballot later this spring — and there’s no reason to think it won’t — voters will be confronted with an existential question. With one check mark, they could start the process of breaking the 168-year-old Golden State into three pieces: the new states of California, Northern California and Southern California.

Voters might reasonably assume that a decision of such magnitude would come before them only after months, if not years, of study by academics, planning by elected officials and vetting by policy analysts and others well-versed in the mechanics of governance. But voters would be wrong. This far-out plan to break up California is the brainchild of just one man — albeit one worth an estimated $1 billion, which he can spend freely to turn his dreams into our reality.

This effort is the brainchild of Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley billionaire who was also the author of a previous plan to split California up into six states. This time around he only needs 365,880 to move the measure forward and he seems to believe that three larger states will be more appealing to the state’s voters. Draper is a venture capitalist who is very heavy into cryptocurrencies and has also made no secret of why he wants to leave California, assuming he can’t break it up.

Everybody wants to leave California. Anybody in business wants to leave California. Because even though the weather’s awesome and their friends are probably here – all of the incentives are to leave.

That’s why I want to flee California. I want a fresh start. And also to leave the US but that’s a different set of incentives. The taxes are higher here, the services are worse, educations worse, the roads are poor. You go to Texas – they have no personal income tax, they have great roads, they have a free government encouraging innovation. You need that.

It’s unclear exactly how the three Californias would break in terms of the politics, but if it looks like an attractive enough deal he might even talk some of the liberals into it. There would definitely still be one large liberal state as well as a significantly smaller conservative one. If the third state was at least a bit more evenly split, people might take a chance on it. That would mean four more senators, but each new state would have a lot less general clout. And if worse comes to absolute worst we could still kick out the part with Los Angeles and just put a wall around it.

Exit question: would you be willing to move to California for one year just to vote yes on this referendum if you were guaranteed to be able to leave after it was finished?