RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — Thirteen mostly conservative California counties would break away to create a 51st state known as South California under a proposal by an elected official that would have to clear major hurdles to succeed.
Republican Jeff Stone has asked fellow members of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to support a motion to bring together officials from the 13 counties to discuss the idea.
A vote on the proposed meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.
Stone said California is too big to govern, a situation that has led the state to raid local government coffers because of runaway spending. He knows it will be a challenge to create another state but doesn't believe it's an impossible task.
"We are sending a message," Stone told the Los Angeles Times.
The effort marks the latest in scores of secession movements in California dating back to the 1850s that aimed to cleave the state and split counties and cities.
Even if leaders from the 13 counties got serious about secession, the U.S. Constitution says no new state can be formed without the consent of Congress and the state Legislature.
An e-mail message left by The Associated Press for Stone's chief of staff, Verne Lauritzen, was not immediately returned.
Gil Duran, a spokesman for California Gov. Jerry Brown, said Stone's proposal is "a supremely ridiculous waste of everybody's time."
"If you want to live in a Republican state with very conservative right-wing laws, then there's a place called Arizona," Duran told the newspaper.
Stone's version of South California would not include Los Angeles County. Instead, it would encompass coastal Orange and San Diego counties, and more sparsely populated, inland areas such as Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Riverside, San Bernardino and Tulare counties.
Combined, those counties have about 13 million people.
Stone also proposed that South California would have a part-time Legislature with no term limits as well as a newly built capitol building.