SAN FRANCISCO - A billionaire says he has enough support to ask Californians if they want to divide the nation's most populous state into three states.
Venture capitalist Tim Draper says he plans to deliver more than 600,000 signatures next week to be verified by California's secretary of state. More than 366,000 are needed to put the question on the November ballot.
“With three states, we’re gonna be able to govern for the next millennium it’s gonna be awesome,” said Draper as he signed copies of his book during the block party on 3rd Street.
Efforts in recent years have failed to reach voters and Congress would get the final say if the Cal 3 initiative succeeds.
“California residents are going to get better representation. They’re going to be empowered to get more involved in their state government. They’re gonna be closer to their government,” said Draper.
Supporters say the state has grown too large to meet the needs of Californians. But opponents say creating three states will do nothing to solve California's economic and political problems.
Actually, separating would create more issues and more problems, according to experts. First, about half of the collected ballot signatures would need to be certified. Then could come the lawyers.
“There’s been litigation whether laws like this or initiatives like this are considered to be revisions, outright wholesale to the constitution, or merely amendments,” said Santa Clara University constitutional law instructor Margaret Russell.
She says the courts would likely rule creating three states is revising the California's Constitution.
“You can’t just operate California separately and decided to be three or six or a 100 different states. You have to set up a process to connect that to the supreme law of the land, the U.S. Constitution,” said Prof. Russell.
And that connection would come through congress.. The same collection of politicians that agree on very little, would need to ratify the change. The last time a state split was West Virginia from Virginia – and at that point Virginia was part of the confederacy, not the union. With long odds all the way around, and lukewarm support, the outcome seems dubious.. But Draper stand behind his latest venture…
“In California, we can’t do worse,” said Draper.
He plans to present the signatures in Sacramento next week.