Proposal to divide California would reclassify more than 100,000 UC students as out-of-state

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A proposal that would split California into six separate states could cause about 66 percent of UC Berkeley students to have to pay out-of-state tuition, according to a recently released report from a Sacramento research and strategy firm.

Based on freshman data from fall 2009, the report — released by Forward Observer on Monday — analyzes the number of students from each UC campus that would have to be reclassified as out-of-state residents if the ballot initiative from venture capitalist Tim Draper is passed. The plan would divide California based on geographic location and region-specific issues, such as agriculture or technology.

According to the report, more than 100,000 UC students would be affected by the change and would have to pay an additional $22,878 in nonresident tuition fees, totaling more than $2.5 billion a year.

The UC Office of the President declined to comment on the issue because it does not take positions on ballot measures, though it does take stances on legislation that may affect the University of California.

“I don’t think it is a practical proposal,” said Joe Rodota, CEO of Forward Observer. “I only see risks, costs and problems.”

Last month, Draper was given approval to gather signatures for his proposed ballot initiative. If he accumulates the roughly 807,000 signatures required by mid-July, his proposal will earn a spot on California’s 2014 midterm election ballot.

But even if Draper’s proposal were to be approved by California voters during the election, it would still have to go through the U.S. Congress to be officially adopted. Congress would need to agree on allowing 10 more senators to represent the new entities as well as figure out the most efficient way to establish six states.

In an interview with Time magazine, Draper said that by creating six smaller states, local governments would be able to address problems more effectively.

“The reason he wants to break up California is he believes that there is no connection between (different) parts of California, (when in fact) Californians are really closely integrated with one another,” Rodota said. “I think that our study illustrates a flaw in Draper’s premise.”

Although Ted Lempert, a political science lecturer at UC Berkeley, acknowledged that the concept is interesting, he said the cost and time to create a whole new infrastructure would be “dramatic.”

Policies that would have to be combed over and reapproved include new tax structures, laws and regulations, compensation for public employees and criminal justice guidelines, according to a study from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office.

“I think this (is) one of the most ridiculous political moves I’ve seen,” said ASUC Senator Caitlin Quinn in an email. “(It) would be clearly extremely detrimental to the quality of public education we have fought so hard to maintain.”

Contact Becca Benham at [email protected].