The “Golden State” may eventually become the “Multiple Golden States.” On June 12, a plan to replace California with three new states qualified to appear on the ballot. The measure would have vast consequences, and it is unclear whether the plan will come to fruition.
The measure, “Cal 3”, received over 400,000 signatures. As this is above the state limit that, Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State, will plan to certify the proposal for the ballot on June 28.
Photo: Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash
The plan was spearheaded by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper, who previously led an effort to divide California into six states back in 2014. His desire to partition California stems from, according to his beliefs, that multiple Californias would better serve the interests of local communities and more efficiently address citizens. Essentially, this will divide California as seen to morph the state into manageable bits.
Even if Californians votes “yes” on the proposal, the fate of the state would remain uncertain. If the measure wins a simple majority on the ballot, the next step is congressional approval, which may prove unlikely.
Congressional Democrats, on one hand, may be hesitant to break up the reliably-blue electoral bloc of California. Republicans, on the other hand, would not be thrilled about four new, likely Democratic, seats in the senate.
Under the plan, California would break up into Northern California, Southern California, and California. Northern California would contain 40 counties, including Sacramento and San Francisco, and stretch across the current state’s width. Southern California would stay below Northern California and contain 12 counties, including San Diego. California would sit on the southern coast and contain six counties, including Los Angeles.
For Californians, splitting up may prove to be an inconvenience. Students, for example, would end up paying out-of-state tuition to attend college in a different “California”. Breaking up will also create significant inequality among the new states. Northern California would have a median income 17% higher than current California, and Southern California’s median income would sit 17% lower.
This is far from the first time California's unity has been tested. Over 200 plans to revamp California have popped up over the years, including the idea of a northern state, “Jefferson”, and a brief secession attempt, dubbed “Calexit” in 2017.
Ore James is a high school student who's into books, politics, and green tea. You can usually find her browsing through scientific journals, buried in a novel, or keeping up with current events.