What city would become the capital of the new state of South California?
How would the state pay for its operations?
Or what about a water supply for the 13 million South California residents?
Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, who proposed that at least 13 counties secede from California, said Friday he doesn't have those answers yet.
His first task is to gauge interest from other local elected officials and residents.
He said he believes there will be plenty of it, and pointed to hundreds of emails his office has received since he proposed the plan Thursday night.
"Let's have a state that was the Golden State two decades ago," Stone said Friday. "That welcomes businesses to the state, that allows capitalism to prevail."
Stone said he proposed secession after learning Thursday that Gov. Jerry Brown signed budget legislation passed by the Democratic majority that will divert about $14 million in vehicle license fee revenue from four new Riverside County cities: Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Menifee and Wildomar.
Officials warn the lost revenue could cripple the cities. Brown said Republican lawmakers forced the cut because they were unwilling to let voters decide whether to extend certain tax increases.
Stone said local governments will bear the brunt.
"With this budget, you will see cities and counties on the brink of bankruptcy," said Stone, a Republican who serves in a nonpartisan position as supervisor.
He said he did not propose the plan to further his own political career and does not want to become Gov. Stone of South California.
"This is not a politically self-serving thing," he said. "I want to remain a county supervisor."
But some criticized Stone's proposal. Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster called it crazy. Brown spokesman Gil Duran dismissed the idea.
Duran even changed his photo on his Twitter account to Abraham Lincoln and tweeted a quote from the 16th president calling secession the essence of anarchy.
Secession isn't a new idea in California, a state with a long history of divided interests, whether they be north versus south or coastal versus inland. In the 1850s, lawmakers proposed splitting the state in two.
In the 1940s, residents and officials revived the idea of the state of Jefferson made up of Northern California and Southern Oregon.
And former Northern California legislator Stan Statham pushed legislation in the early 1990s to split California into two or three states.
Stone's proposed South California would include the counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, San Diego, Orange , Kings, Kern, Fresno , Tulare, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa and Mono.
The supervisor said the 51st state would save its residents from what he described as a tax-happy, overly bureaucratic Sacramento that stifles businesses, rewards illegal immigrants and props up a public education system that is sliding into mediocrity.
"I don't want to just duplicate the problems that we already have in our existing state of California," Stone said. But if other counties are interested in seceding, "We would welcome them," he said.
Stone will present his proposal to the Board of Supervisors on July 12. If his colleagues sign off, county staff would begin the work to organize a convention on the topic in Riverside.
The proposed state would have a population of 13.07 million people, while the remaining state of California would have 24.18 million.
Politically, Stone's proposed state would be much less Democratic than today's California. Republicans would outnumber Democrats by about 5 percentage points.
The 35 remaining counties would dwarf the new state's gross income and taxable sales.
Stone's idea has resonated with some officials in the proposed new state, particularly given the budget legislation Brown signed Thursday.
Temecula Councilman Mike Naggar agreed with Stone that California is in trouble.
"The current state Legislature needs to be disbanded," Naggar said. "We have a real constitutional crisis. They're not up to the challenge and something has to be done."
Redlands-based economist John Husing said there are major differences between California's north and south. The Bay Area has a higher percentage of residents with bachelor's degrees, Husing said. Southern California has a greater need for blue-collar jobs.
Southern California also is more diverse, he said.
Those differences aren't always considered in the state's effort to grow the economy, which hurts Southern California residents, Husing said.
no simple task
But seceding won't be easy.
Creating a new state from the boundaries of another would require the consent of the state Legislature and Congress, according Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution.
A 2009 Field Poll found only 17 percent of California voters approve breaking the state up.
Fresno County Supervisor Debbie Poochigian reacted cautiously to Stone's proposal.
"He makes a lot of good points. I understand his frustration, but I'm not sure dividing up the state is the answer," Poochigian told the Fresno Bee on Friday.
Buster dismissed the idea, saying the county and others in the proposed new state rely heavily on Northern California for water, Buster said.
Buster questioned what would happen to state universities here and UC Riverside's efforts to get a medical school.
"You can go on and on," he said.
But, he added, "It is a good story for fireworks."
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