Local lawmaker seeks to make "South California" 51st state

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A California politician has an unorthodox solution to some of the massive state's budget woes: secession.

The man, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, will formally propose the idea - in which 13 mostly conservative-leaning California counties break off from the state and form a unique "South California" state - on Tuesday to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

The new state, which would theoretically include the counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, San Diego, Orange, Kings, Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa and Mono, would be home to about 13 million people. Los Angeles is purposefully absent.

"Los Angeles is purposely excluded because they have the same liberal policies that Sacramento does. The last thing I want to do is create a state that's a carbon copy of what we have now," Stone told the Los Angeles Times. "Los Angeles just enacted a ban on plastic grocery bags. That put three or four manufacturers out of business."

Stone hopes the creation of South California would empower the state's local governments, many of which have suffered in recent efforts to reduce the state's massive deficit.

"Local jurisdiction, particularly those in Southern California, have been at the mercy of the state legislature for well over a decade," Stone's chief of staff, Verne Lauritzen, said in a recent interview. "The state has been unable and incompetent in producing a budget that is not only balanced but appropriate to local governments."

Stone's proposal came shortly after Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed into law the state's budget bill, which diverts millions in funding from local agencies.

Stone, a Republican, voiced his discontent in a statement last week.

"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," he said. "It has to change."

"With this budget, you will see cities and counties on the brink of bankruptcy," he told the Press-Enterprise of Riverside.

Brown's office, however, dismissed the idea as "supremely ridiculous."

"It's a supremely ridiculous waste of everybody's time," spokesman Gil Duran told the LA Times. "If you want to live in a Republican state with very conservative right-wing laws, then there's a place called Arizona."

Stone is not the first Californian to dream of secession: according to the LA Times, more than 200 similar propositions have been brought up since 1850.

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