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Could Southern California become the 51st state?

Could Southern California become the 51st state? There's a new push to divide the Golden State into two.
July 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Could Southern California become the 51st state? There's a new push to divide the Golden State in two.

"Our state legislature that is supposed to be making laws and being respected, imposes laws that aren't even lawful," said Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone. "So I think our state is California gone wild."

Stone is leading the charge. He is proposing 13 Southern California counties secede from the state, dividing California into a north and south region.

California's financial woes are behind a new proposal to split up the state. Stone's proposal came just hours after Gov. Jerry Brown signed off on the state's new budget, which will divert millions of dollars away from county and city agencies.

"Our common denominator of losing all of our tax revenues to the state so they can balance their budget on the backs of their local citizens," said Stone.

The plan also calls for a part-time legislature, and to shift the balance of power to local governments. Some local leaders say parting ways with Sacramento is not a viable option.

"Southern California depends significantly on Northern California for much of our water supply," said Riverside Councilman Mike Gardner. "It's contentious enough with us being one state, and I think it would be worse if we were two separate states."

This isn't the first time California's statehood has been up for debate. In 1965 and 1992, state lawmakers tried to divvy up the state.

"It's a little interesting," said Riverside resident Tammy Christensen. "A little scary to think that they would be able to split up the state like that, but I don't think it will happen."

Even those who support the break-up say it would be a tough sell.

"I think certainly the spending the government we have in Sacramento doesn't properly represent the interest of the people in Southern California, certainly not in their spending habits," said Redlands resident Bryant McDonald. "The possibility of it happening is not likely."

Stone will be putting his proposal before the Riverside County Board of Supervisors July 12. If he succeeds in getting that support, it would go through the state legislature and then to the U.S. Congress.


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