LOS ANGELES (AP) — California has reached the breaking point, says Tim Draper. The Silicon Valley venture capitalist is pushing a proposal to crack the nation's most populous state into smaller pieces — six of them.
California has grown so big, so inefficient, it's essentially ungovernable, according to a ballot initiative that could reach voters as early as November.
It has to go, he says.
"Vast parts of our state are poorly served by a representative government," according to Draper's plan, which cleared a key government hurdle this week, part of the process to qualify for the ballot. California residents "would be better served by six smaller state governments."
In an interview Thursday, Draper said he has seen a state once regarded as a model slide into decline — many public schools are troubled, transportation, water and other infrastructure systems are overmatched and outdated, spending on prisons has soared.
A group of states could change that, he said, competing and cooperating with each other.
Without change "it will get worse," he warned. "California is not working."
No one would dispute that California, home to 38 million people, is full of rivalries and squabbling. Dodgers or Giants. Tacos or sushi. Where water goes, and how much of it.
But the state has proven reliably resilient against attempts to split it apart, dating to the era of its founding in 1850. Over the years, proposals have suggested California should be two states, or three, or four.
"It's certainly fun to talk about," said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. But "its prospects are nil."
Even if it were to be approved by voters, Congress would have to endorse the idea of creating six new states — and adding 10 senators to the chamber's political mix (as with all states, California currently has two). Congress, under the U.S. Constitution, must approve the creation or division of any states.
"I don't think anyone is going to give California 12 Senate seats," Sonenshein said.