Margaret Joehnck: Keep It California advises not to sign State of Jefferson petitions
Keep It California, a nonpartisan political organization formed to oppose the formation of a new state and to advocate for this area’s needs, urges you not to sign the State of Jefferson petitions.
Last week the Jefferson group submitted to the state legislature individual petitions and statements of support with unverified signatures that will never be validated as voters by the County Clerks or the Secretary of State. Nevada County and 14 other counties were misrepresented as joining this effort to create a new state. The submissions have no legal effect, and in fact, no action will be taken by the legislature as a result of them.
California has a very robust method for a group to bring an issue to the voters. If the Jeffersons were serious about splitting the state, a statewide initiative would be needed, as all California voters will need to vote on the issue.
The effort to poll Nevada County voters is only an advisory measure. Nevada County’s Board of Supervisors has indicated no interest in this idea, and Plumas and Lake counties BOS’s have rescinded their offers to put a measure on the ballot. The election is moot, anyway, since the Jefferson group has already gone around the board and the voters by claiming that our county supports this folly.
Our research team, led by our chair, Cindy Ellsmore, a retired treasurer of Sierra County, has analyzed the financial proposal extensively and found major errors in their analysis. Here are just two of them:
First, the State of Jefferson has greatly overestimated the amount of state income taxes that would be generated. To meet the State of Jefferson projections, the Nevada County residents’ income taxes would have to be raised 377 percent from California’s current tax. In Jefferson, corporations will pay no taxes, so the increase will fall entirely on families and small businesses. Lower taxes? Not a chance!
Secondly, their financial analysis that the new state would pay no interest on the debt it would inherit from California is a fantasy. A new state with no credit history and unstable revenue will be rated as junk bonds with high interest rates by Wall Street.
The reality is that all of rural California, including the counties targeted by this group, is very dependent on taxes generated in the urban areas of the state. The State of Jefferson is not financially viable without large increases in taxes.
At first the State of Jefferson brochures were about how different the new state would be with more “liberty” from gun safety and environmental regulations, lower taxes, local control of school curriculum and text books.
Now they say this movement is really about having more representation and once the state legislature has turned them down the plan is to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court decision that the states must have their representation based on “one person, one vote.” Prior to 1964, California and many other states had a variety of different schemes to determine representation in their state legislatures which resulted in giving more power to some voters and disenfranchising others. This resulted in a hodge-podge throughout the country that did not meet the equal protection guaranteed by the Constitution. In the 1964 decision known as one person, one vote (Reynolds v. Sims), the U.S. Supreme Court ended that practice and required all state and local elected bodies to draw districts roughly equal in population which created uniformity throughout the U.S. We support this decision.
We need to elect new elected officials if we don’t think they are representing us well and work together to educate urban members of the legislature as well. Keep It California has had the opportunity to meet with the Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and other state representatives. So far we have chosen to work on two pending bills, Senator Wolk’s bill to send the counties the money owed to us for Payment in Lieu of Taxes for state wildlife management areas and Assemblyman Brian Dahle’s bill to support funding for biomass plants which would reduce the fuel in our forests, create energy and jobs.
We hope you will join us in our efforts on these issues and others to bring economic security to the counties of Northern California.
Just don’t sign the petition! It will be a waste of energy and county money to have it on the ballot.
Margaret Joehnck, Nevada County Coordinator for Keep It California.
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Before I tell you about my Darling, I want to follow up on my column from two weeks ago.