Petition drive begins to divide California into three states

Billionaire Tim Draper funding ballot initiative

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Could the Central Coast become part of a new state? A billionaire tech investor thinks it should and he's funding a petition drive for a ballot measure to divide California into three states.

Billionaire Tim Draper tried in 2014 to divide California into six sections now he's trying again with a plan that would create three states.

Northern California would include Sacramento, Southern California would include the Central Valley and Inland Empire and a "New California" would include L.A. County and most of the coastal areas of the state.

Draper has received approval from the California Secretary of State to circulate a petition to get the idea on the November 2018 ballot.

Draper says the political and economic diversity of California and its nearly 40 million people has made the state almost ungovernable.

He points to unmanageable public employee pension and benefits, infrastructure maintenance and out of control taxation and regulation among his reasons to carve up California.

Skeptics and opponents say it would create chaos and makes things worse than they are now.

"Creating three new governments, three new legislatures, three new governors and then having to disrupt what we have as a state, all are prison systems, our higher education systems", said political analyst Steve Maviglio, "I think diversity is what makes California great and this would actually ruin it."

Draper needs more than 585,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot and has plenty of money to organize and fund the effort.

Even if California voters agree to create three new states it still requires approval of Congress which some observers think is too high of a hurdle to clear.

"The wealth in the state is concentrated along the coast and the Inland Empire and Central Valley actually benefit from that because we are subsidizing their schools and providing them with tax money", Maviglio said, "if they were left on their own which is part of this proposal, you'd see massive tax increases in the poorest parts of the state and I don't think that helps anybody."

Over the years there have been efforts to split Santa Barbara County in two, mainly for political reasons, with Santa Maria becoming the seat of a new county in the north.

Those efforts also failed for reasons that included taxation and the funding of government services.

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