While it has little chance of ever succeeding, the movement to create the State of Jefferson does reflect the frustration of many people who believe government is out of touch with the voters.
The movement, which envisions creating a 51st state from the 12 northern counties of California and several counties in southern Oregon, has picked up the support of the Yuba County Board of Supervisors, joining Siskiyou, Modoc and Glenn counties in the effort.
Sutter County is expected to vote on the issue in May, with Del Norte and Tehama counties scheduling votes for June. The effort is also being pushed in Butte, Colusa, Lake and Shasta counties.
The movement’s backers are even trying to establish a beach head in Placer County, generally considered too big and too urban to fit in with its neighbors to the north. Could Nevada County be next?
Promoters frame the movement as an effort to create a state government that’s actually responsive to the needs of the residents, something they claim they don’t have now. They tend to be more conservative on social and environmental issues, and feel ignored by Sacramento and the big political wheels on the coast.
There’s some legitimacy to those feelings. California is largely an urban state, and the power and influence can be found in its metropolitan areas. When President Obama visited Fresno recently, the Sacramento Bee sarcastically thanked him for visiting someplace other than the coast.
But there are a couple of things the promoters are forgetting. Most of the environmental, land use, immigration and other laws they don’t like are federal statutes, and those won’t change if Jefferson is created.
Then there’s the money issue. Most of the counties in the north are sparsely populated and poor, known by people who keep track of where state funds go as the “welfare counties.” The residents of Jefferson will be shocked when they realize the tax load they’ll have to pay to replace the state money they get now.
The backers of the State of Jefferson better be careful what they wish for.