Is Baja Arizona viable as its own state?

Once the laughing stops about the effort to create America’s 51st state out of all or a portion of Arizona that lies south of the Gila River….people start asking….is this really feasible?

Consider that just Pima County alone with a population of 1,020,200 (2009) has more people than Montana, Delaware, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. With an area of 9,189 square miles, Pima County is bigger than Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

There is legal precedent for the separation of a portion of an existing state from the original state in order to form a new one. In 1820, Maine split off from Massachusetts and was admitted to the Union as the 23rd state. In 1861 West Viriginia split from Viriginia to stay in the Union (sound familiar?).

But in the 21st century this is extremely difficult to accomplish now.

Before the creation of Baja Arizona gets taken seriously a whole lot of questions will need to be answered.

How much tax revenue is generated from Baja Arizona to the state and how much does the state spend back down here?

The guessing is we send more money to Phoenix than we get back…but everyone needs to know for sure if the existing state of Arizona functions down here can be sustained from existing revenues.

Someone ought to come up with a proposed state budget for the new state so we can see if this really could work.

We also need to understand how exepnses are allocated…how much for the prison system versus education so we can identify where our opportunities are located.

We need to understand the revenue share system…how much gas tax money goes to Phoenix and how much is shared back.

We need to understand how money goes to Phoenix for education system support and how much comes back.

We need to see how state support for the U of A would be impacted…would we have more money to go beyond the 10% of the budget support the UA now gets from Arizona?

We need to understand transportaion funding to see if we could maintain Interstates 10 and 19.

What would the state constitution of Baja Arizona look like?

The existing state constitution isn’t half bad. Problem is that constitution has not been followed by the Maricopans.

Just one example…besides a separation of church and state the existing state constitution also has a provision banning state subsidy of corporations.

Isn’t that an interesting idea?

Isn’t that some of what the Tea Party is talking about?

Been in the constitution since 1912.

Article 9 of the Arizona state constitution: 7. Gift or loan of credit; subsidies; stock ownership; joint ownership

Section 7. Neither the state, nor any county, city, town, municipality, or other subdivision of the state shall ever give or loan its credit in the aid of, or make any donation or grant, by subsidy or otherwise, to any individual, association, or corporation, or become a subscriber to, or a shareholder in, any company or corporation, or become a joint owner with any person, company, or corporation, except as to such ownerships as may accrue to the state by operation or provision of law or as authorized by law solely for investment of the monies in the various funds of the state. 10. Aid of church, private or sectarian school, or public service corporation

Section 10. No tax shall be laid or appropriation of public money made in aid of any church, or private or sectarian school, or any public service corporation.

We could have an internet effort “write your own state constitution” to add some things that would be good to have.

What kind of political structure should the new state have?

Do we want the usual package of governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, school superintendent? Would we need a state mine inspector?

Just thinking about those jobs and who currently holds them is an argument for Baja Arizona….

How many state legislative districts and state legislators do we want?

One good thing about the new state is it would open up lots of new jobs for otherwise frustrated poiticians from down here.

But…while folks assume the new state would be heavily Democratic…..I rather doubt that.

My guess is Baja Arizona would be right-of-center….but not as far right as Arizona is now.

Our Republicans tend mostly to be more moderate than the GOPers up north. Remember, we elected Jim Kolbe…an openly gay Republican to Congress.

Our Independents are center-right.

Baja Arizona would probably not be some progressive’s dream.

There is also a strong libertarian streak in the region.

The different probably is we would not be as militantly anti-immigrant and social conservatives wouldn’t have as big a voice down here as they do in Phoenix.

Gay marriage does not look like a big issue down here.

See Three Sonorans’ post.

And how about the replacement state statues?

Until and when the new state legislature adopts a new state code, the existing laws of old Arizona would still apply.

Since a major issue driving the thought of Baja Arizona is all the goofy things the existing state has on its books…what would the people down here want that is different? No SB 1070? Tougher gun control laws?

I would suspect a lot of people would not want to vote to create the new state unless they had a really good idea if the new version was actually better than the old version.

What changes would be made to the state revenue system?

Would the new state have a property tax or not?

What would the new state sales tax system look like?

How about the new state’s icome tax laws?

What would our Department of Environmental Quality look like? What would our Department of Water Resources be all about?

In my ideal world simultaneously with a vote to create the new state, there would be a referendum adopting the new state’s constitution and state law code so everyone would know up front what they were getting themselves into.

Obviously answering all the serious questions that need to be answered is not going to happen over night.

Will Baja Arizona happen?

Right now I think not.

It is a long way from a giggle to actuality here.

Digging into the issues that need to be considered will be helpful in understanding what the problems are…and maybe finding other solutions besides secession.

For example….we really need to pay attention to the redistricting of the state to make sure we are not further marginalized.

Then again…one never knows what else the state legislature might come up with. There remains the potential for Russell Pearce to push this off the cliff and really ignite a widely supported serious movement to create America’s 51st state.

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About Hugh Holub

Attorney and writer.
This entry was posted in 51st state, arizona politics, arizona state legislature, baja arizona, free baja arizona and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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