The California Secession Movement

Could California split into two or three states? Could Upstate New York split away from New York City and other downstate counties? Those are two examples of states with imbalances in tax and revenue distributions. On June 30th Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone proposed splitting thirteen counties from the state of California. These counties account for 13 million people and include Riverside, Imperial, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Kings, Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa and Mono. He California Secession Plan Mapsuggested calling this new entity South California (see map). The spokesman for Governor Jerry Brown scoffed, saying: “A secessionist movement? What is this, 1860?” “We have a state Legislature that has gone wild. They just don’t care. Their goal was to get a balanced budget so they could continue to get a paycheck,” Stone said by telephone late Thursday. “There is only one solution: A serious secession from the liberal arm of the state of California. I know the state of California can do better.” This came the same day as the governor signed the new budget which among other things diverts $14 million in vehicle license fee revenue from four new Riverside cities. Stone claims that this part of the budget will cripple them financially and force them to disincorporate. Stone’s proposal will be presented to the supervisors on July 12th. So far it has received mixed reviews with other elected officials.

California has reached a population of 40 million and many of its citizens feel that its sheer size precludes a fair distribution of revenues. The new budget has stripped all California cities of vehicle license fee revenue. In many cases this revenues accounts for a large percentage of cities’ budgets. Northern Californians have long thought about splitting of Southern California. They feel that they have little in common with the southern half of the state. Many rational political thinkers feel that this is an issue that should be considered.

Upstate New York has always felt dominated by New York City. New York State has a population 19.4 million while New York City accounts for 8.2 million of that, some 42%. The upstate counties have different political and cultural values. Here is the opinion of one New York citizen.

The reality is ALL political power and decision-making for NYS happens in NYC, for the benefit of NYC. And the fact is, that the economy and culture of NYC vs. Upstate are complete opposites. In NYC the top issues are 1) Affordable housing, 2) Quality of life issues (traffic, noise, etc.), and 3) The environment. In Upstate, the top three issues are 1) Economic/job growth, 1) Economic/job growth, and 3) Economic/job growth. The two parts of the state have diametrically opposite needs. I am a devoted, small-government, Jeffersonian Libertarian, but I can see how a some ‘big government’ is actually necessary down here, to keep the City livable. Upstate, however, has its economy suffocated by big government.

These two example from states at opposite ends of our great nation deserve serious considerations. Our country has been 2008 US Election County Mapindependent for 235 years. Over that time the nation has changed and evolved with increasingly divergent political and cultural views. Look at a county map of the 2008 election. Red represents the Republicans, blue the Democrats. Startling is it? The 2010 election results show more red since the Republicans won 60+ House seats, nine governorships and six Senate seats. More importantly, they won over 700 legislative seats and took control of the majority of state legislatures in this redistricting year. Perhaps, its time for flexibility at the state level. Maybe, we should divide some of our larger states so that citizens can feel that their voice will be heard rather than in the case of California drowned in a sea of 40 million voices.