Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone’s proposal that the county lead a campaign for 13 Southern California counties to secede from the state got mixed reviews Friday.
Stone said in a statement late Thursday that Riverside, Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego and Tulare counties should form the new state of South California.
“California was once the world’s fourth largest economy and now struggles to hold on to eighth place,” the supervisor said. “Our taxes are too high, our schools don’t educate our children well enough, unions and other special interests have more clout in the Legislature than the general public. It has to change.”
The creation of the new state would allow officials to focus on securing borders, balancing budgets, improving schools and creating a vibrant economy, he said. The new state would have no term limits for lawmakers, only a part-time legislature and “reasonable” property and sales taxes.
Stone intends to detail his proposal at the Board of Supervisors’ next meeting, July 12.
He unveiled the plan the same day Gov. Jerry Brown signed budget legislation that will divert about $14 million in 2011-12 vehicle license fee revenue from four new Riverside County cities: Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Menifee and Wildomar. Officials fear the cut will have a crippling impact on the municipalities’ finances.
The county is due millions of dollars in payments from the state for providing legislatively mandated entitlement programs, leading county officials to express reservations about the “realignment” plans included in the 2011-12 budget. Foster care, juvenile offender detention and parolee supervision will be among the responsibilities foisted on localities under realignment.
Stone regularly refers to Sacramento as a “black hole” into which taxpayers’ money is poured with little identifiable return on the investment.
He ran on that plank in his unsuccessful state senate bid last year.
The governor’s press secretary, Gil Duran, dismissed the supervisor’s proposal as “a monumental waste of taxpayer dollars.”
“Most people are normal and will view this as a very strange publicity stunt that will, mercifully, not go any further,” Duran told City News Service. “It’s clearly a joke.”
The aide responded to Stone’s criticism of the state’s politics and spending as so much “whining.”
“If Mr. Stone wants to prove his point, then he can cut his own supervisorial salary in half. He’s got too much time on his hands,” Duran said.
Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert, acknowledged that secession would pose “a lot of complexities,” but didn’t rule out the possibility.
“This kind of thing has been talked about many times before,” the lawmaker told City News Service. “It’s still an idea worth discussing. We’ve got a state now that is literally unmanageable. The bigger you are, the harder it is to be efficient. The larger you are, the more bureaucracy eats up your tax dollars. It’s better to have a more localized government.”
Stone said he will be recommending that the county’s Executive Office host a meeting with representatives from other counties at the Riverside Convention Center as soon as possible.