Local California-backers organize

By Jessica Cejnar, The Triplicate April 09, 2014 12:12 pm

Group forms to fight Jefferson-state proposal on ballot 

A month after county supervisors approved an advisory measure asking voters if they support leaving California for a new state of Jefferson, a committee has formed to encourage Del Norters to vote no.

The Keep It California campaign seeks to inform voters of the financial impacts to Del Norte County if it separated from California, said campaign director Kevin Hendrick. The political action committee received approval from California Secretary of State Debra Bowen on March 27.

The campaign submitted the argument opposing Measure A, which will appear  on the sample ballot for the June 3 primary election.

“Most don’t believe that will ever happen,” Hendrick said, referring to the formation of Jefferson state. “It’s a complicated, long process. The question is how much time will you spend to get to that dead end. Aren’t there more important things for us to be working on?”

The Del Norte Board of Supervisors approved an advisory measure Feb. 25 that ask voters their opinion on Jefferson state. Even if voters approve Measure A, the board would still have to vote on a declaration to withdraw from California for Del Norte to be counted among the other counties supporting Jefferson.

Jefferson advocates say withdrawing from California would restore political representation to rural counties such as Del Norte.

Under a state of Jefferson, counties would have control over their natural resources due to fewer regulations, fewer state agencies and a part-time legislature, new-state proponents contend.

At a workshop Feb. 27, county officials told supervisors that more than $34 million of the county government’s $102 million budget comes from state funding. According to County Administrative Officer Jay Sarina, who said he went by 2012 census information, Del Norte’s 9,900 households generate an average of about $1,600 in tax revenue and receive an average of $3,457 in state funding, $1,153 in federal funding and $274 in federal money passed through the state. To maintain the current level of service, Sarina said the money Del Norte receives from California would have to be backfilled with funding through a new state.

Supervisors also heard from representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Local Transportation Commission and the city.

At the same workshop, Jefferson state advocates said the combined total budgets for all counties that would possibly participate in the movement total more than $2 billion. Those counties include Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity and Yuba.

Citing the county’s numbers, Hendrick said supporters of the Keep It California campaign, including Superintendent of Schools Don Olson and Don McArthur, president of the Del Norte Unified School District Board of Trustees, don’t want to take a chance at losing that state funding.

Hendrick pointed out that even though the Jefferson Declaration Committee has gone before the Board of Supervisor, it hasn’t approached the county’s other government agencies.

“We want to encourage local government agencies to evaluate the financial risks and uncertainties related to breaking away from California,” he said, pointing out that the school district and other districts besides the county provide services to residents. “The facts are there, but people don’t have them. Every one of these agencies get funding from the state of California.”

Supporters for the Keep It California campaign also include District 2 Supervisor Martha McClure, Crescent City Councilwoman Kathryn Murray and former county assessor Gerald Cochran. 

So far, Siskiyou, Modoc and Glenn counties have approved declarations to withdraw from the state of California. Lake County supervisors on April 1 discussed a declaration to withdraw, according to jeffersondeclaration.net.

Tehama County in February approved an advisory measure for the June 3 ballot asking voters to weigh in on the issue. Unlike Del Norte’s resolution, Tehama County left the name of the new state ambiguous. 

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