Splitting California in Half

Splitting the conservative parts of California from the rest of the Golden State might not be such a bad idea.

The skyline of Los Angeles, California, November 15, 2009
The skyline of Los Angeles, California, November 15, 2009 (Keith Skelton)

There’s a proposal to split the state of California in half.

The fifty-first state would be called South California and encompass the city of San Diego as well as conservative countries while Los Angeles, San Francisco and the more liberal northern parts of the state would continue to be governed from Sacramento.

This new state would be the fifth largest by population, more populous than Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania. South California would take nearly a third of the population away from California, making the Golden State the second largest after Texas.

Why cares about Republicans?

Eleven of the thirteen proposed counties in South California traditionally vote Republican, a fact noticed by the office of Democratic governor Jerry Brown.

“If you want to live in a Republican state with very conservative right-wing laws, then there’s a place called Arizona,” said his spokesman.

Of course that’s what makes the federal system work: people and companies can move to states that are more to their liking. It is why conservative states generally create more jobs and their workers are more productive.

But Dan McLaughlin writes for the conservative blog RedState that “saying that millions of residents should just leave the state if they don’t like California’s liberal laws, dysfunctional finances and horrendous business climate doesn’t really disprove the point that the Sacramento elite really and truly [does] not care about the Republican-leaning parts of the state or the people in them.”

They should, though. California has among the highest unemployment rates in the country and its worst fiscal crisis with a $26.6 billion deficit comprising nearly a third of the state’s budget.

Little wonder California has the worst credit rating of all states.

Not friendly to business

California is also one of the least business-friendly of states.

Last year, CNBC ranked it thirty-second, but only because the state has Silicon Valley and easy access to capital.

Hundreds of business leaders interviewed by Chief Executive ranked California fiftieth, citing its burdensome regulations and high taxes.

Survey respondents uniformly said that the state’s regulators are hostile. “No one in his right mind would start a new manufacturing concern here,” according to one California CEO.

What is more, California seems uniquely oblivious to the effect its labor and other regulations have on innovation and technology firms. Job growth in the Valley has flatlined. Firms keep their headquarters there but pursue growth in friendlier states. Cisco, Google, Intel and other corporations are locating plants in states ranging from North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and — wait for it — “very conservative” Arizona.