A new proposal that would ask voters to approve splitting California into three states is facing opposition from a powerful figure in the Democratic party, Steve Maviglio.
The political consultant says, "We are forming a committee to officially oppose it."
The proposal by Silicon Valley money man Tim Draper mirrors in some ways an unsuccessful attempt in 2014 to slice the Golden State six ways. Draper, a onetime Republican who says he voted for President Obama, sunk $5 million into signature gathering and political consulting for the campaign known as Six Californias. But while more than enough voter signatures were turned in, officials said not enough were valid to meet the threshold necessary to make the ballot. At the time, the venture capitalist blamed an "archaic system" and government "dysfunction."
This time around, foes of the three-states plan aren't counting on such luck. "You can write a check to get those signatures," says Maviglio, the former deputy chief of staff of two California Assembly speakers. "You have to consider him serious because he has the ability to do that."
The proposal was submitted recently to the state attorney general's office, which has the job of approving initiative language for "circulation," or signature gathering. It argues that California is way too large for efficient government. The Golden State's nation-leading population of 39,250,017 "has rendered the state nearly ungovernable," according to the proposal. "The citizens of the whole state would be better served by three smaller state governments while preserving the historical boundaries of the various counties, cities and towns."
The three states would include Northern California, composed of several counties such as San Francisco, Sacramento and Santa Clarita; California, composed of Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties; and Southern California, composed of San Diego County, Orange County and several inland and Central Valley counties, such as Riverside, San Bernardino and Fresno.
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When Draper's Six Californias campaign attempted to carve out a state for the Santa Clara County's Silicon Valley and its neighbors in 2014, critics accused him of attempting to limit the flow of tax receipts out of California's golden-goose tech industry. At the time, former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, chair of Maviglio's OneCalifornia opposition camp, called it a solution in search of a problem.
"It would have created massive inequities among our states and caused chaos in our state’s water, energy, higher education, transportation and other systems," Nuñez said.
Maviglio says the three-states proposal is adding to a swamp of measures aiming for the November 2018 ballot, including three that seek to establish some level of California independence from the United States. "They all fall into the crazy-ideas category," he says.
While Draper argues that three smaller states would make government more efficient, Maviglio says it's cheaper to operate a vast statewide government. "It's costly and impractical if you split up the existing system," he says.