Last week, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone (3rd District) proposed that Riverside and possibly several other counties split from California to form a new state.

The state budget enacted and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week was the final straw in Stone’s exasperation with California’s state government, according to Verne Lauritzen, Stone’s chief of staff.

“The state Legislature is so dysfunctional,” Lauritzen said. Buried in the budget language was a requirement to reduce the vehicular fees that newly incorporated cities are given to help smooth their path to independence.

In this case, the language only applied to four cities — Eastvale, Jurupa, Menifee and Wildomar — all in Riverside County. This was the straw that broke Stone’s back, Lauritzen said.

“He’s very frustrated. The state takes taxes, then more. They’re emptying the cities’ coffers and eventually the county’s.”

Stone issued a press release Thursday night through Riverside County’s media office. He didn’t demand secession, rather he suggested that Southern California counties that might be interested in the idea should hold a conference on the subject sometime this fall.

Over the years, many other California politicians have raised the idea of dividing the state because of the difficulty of governing a state with such diverse population and size.

The U.S. Constitution permits a new state from within the jurisdiction of an existing state, if the state Legislature and Congress give their consent (Article 4 Section 3).

Stone suggested that possibly 12 other counties — Imperial, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Kings, Kern, Fresno, Tulare, Inyo, Madera, Mariposa and Mono — be asked to consider forming the State of South California.

“We’ve gotten thousands of calls and emails. Even one from Shasta County, saying, ‘Count us in’,” Lauritzen said Tuesday. “It’s a wild thing to do, but he’s exactly accurate about the problem and is truthful about its impact.

Next Tuesday, July 12, Stone will outline his proposal to his Board colleagues.

Stone said he would suggest that the Riverside County Executive Office coordinate a meeting at the Riverside Convention Center as soon as possible. He proposes that the county counsel’s office in each county offer suggestions about forming the 51st state.

“Are there huge challenges? Absolutely,” Stone acknowledged in his press statement. “But the destruction of California has to stop and we won’t know what we can accomplish unless we sit down and consider the possibilities.”