California voters will get the chance to decide whether to divide the Golden State into three new states in November after an initiative garnered enough valid signatures to make it onto the ballot.
Proponents of the Cal 3 initiative filed more than 402,468 valid signatures — or 110% of the required 365,880 signatures — making it eligible for the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot, the California Secretary of State's Office said Tuesday.
If approved by voters and Congress, the initiative, which was proposed by billionaire Timothy Draper, would split California into three states: Northern California, California, and Southern California.
Each new state would have a population between 12.3 million and 13.9 million, according to the initiative website, with Southern California being the largest and California being the smallest.
In a notice to county clerks, state officials said they will certify the initiative for the ballot June 28 unless it is withdrawn by the proponents.
Draper, who was also behind a 2014 effort to split the state into six, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
The Silicon Valley venture capitalist has said previously that California has become "ungovernable" and dividing it into smaller states would create governments that were more responsive to local needs.
"As a consequence of these and other socio-economic factors, political representation of California's diverse population and economies has rendered the state nearly ungovernable," the initiative reads.
While there have been hundreds of other attempts to split California since it was admitted to the union in 1850, the latest effort faces an uphill battle. The most recent SurveyUSA poll found in April that only 17% of registered voters were in favor of the initiative.
If the measure is approved, California’s existing assets and debts would be divided among the three new states, according to the independent Legislative Analyst's Office. But as the office said in its analysis of the measure, it could take years for the plan to take effect because of inevitable legal challenges.
The office noted in its October report that when West Virginia separated from Virginia in 1863 it took about 50 years to settle court cases regarding the states' debt.
"Some of the legal and practical issues of splitting up California suggest there is a high likelihood that the process would take many years to complete," the report said.
Splitting the state could also result in very different tax bases for the three states, according to the analysis.
Under the plan, Northern California, which would include all nine counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, would have a much larger tax base because Bay Area residents pay more in income and property taxes. And while residents of the proposed California state pay about the statewide average in income and property taxes, residents in Southern California pay much less.
“For these reasons, the new Southern California state, at least initially, probably would have a somewhat less robust tax base than that of the other two proposed states and the existing State of California,” the report stated.
The plan would also lead to changes in how health care, social services, and education — both K-12 and higher education — are funded. Additionally, leaders of the new states would have to figure out how to divvy up state prisons and water resources.