UPDATE: Legislation to begin the process of accepting the 11 conservative Oregon counties into Oregon has passed the Idaho House and has moved onto the Senate.

Southern and Eastern Oregon and Northernmost California Can Become a Part of Idaho

Borders between states have been changed or redefined many times in our history. If a deal were made that two state legislatures pass, a border change would almost certainly become a reality. According to a peer-reviewed law journal, “Prior to 1921, 36 compacts between states were put into effect with the consent of Congress; virtually all of these settled boundaries between contiguous states.”

The most recent example was land transferred from Minnesota to North Dakota in 1961:

The US House of Representatives approved a state border change as recently as June 19, 2002. However, the Senate Majority Leader blocked the vote in the Senate for personal financial reasons. The deal, concerning Wendover, Utah, was approved by voters on both sides of the Utah/Nevada border.

This proposal presents options for Oregon and California to move their borders to put conservative counties on the other side of their borders, making Idaho larger and more conservative and their progressive states more progressive.

A January 2019 poll of those categorized as “liberal” or “very liberal”, living in the blue (Democratic) part of a state showed that 2/3 were willing to let low-income Trump-voting counties in their state become a part of another state. Although this was an Illinois poll, we are confident that a poll of Oregon and California Democrats would yield similar results. Most legislators in the majority party in these states are more concerned about primary elections than general elections because their seats are safely blue, so it is progressive opinion that they follow.

The Democratic Party enjoys large majorities in the legislatures of Oregon and California, and both governors are progressive Democrats. These legislatures would be in favor of strengthening the position of their party in their state by letting Trump-voting counties leave. They should be in favor of improving their state finances by allowing the departure of counties that don’t pay their ‘fair share’ of income and sales taxes because of their lower incomes.

After the border change, the remainder of Oregon (northwestern Oregon) would have an annual per capita personal income (2017 BEA) $1784 higher than their current income. This would allow Oregon taxes to be decreased so that the average Oregon wage earner would save $325 in taxes annually, assuming a marginal tax rate of 11% (the typical Oregonian earner is in the 9% state income tax bracket, but also pays other taxes). The population of Oregon would only decrease by 19%.

After the border change, the remainder of California would have an annual per capita personal income (2017 BEA) $153 higher than California’s is now. This would allow California taxes to be decreased so that the average California wage earner would save $30 in taxes annually, assuming a marginal tax rate of 11.8% (the typical California earner is in the 9.3% state income tax bracket, but also pays other taxes). This improvement is large considering that California would only lose 0.9% of its population (less than one percent).

Citizens in southern and eastern Oregon, as well as northernmost California, wish to live with red-state law. In the 2016 presidential election, these areas cast 2.01 votes for Trump for every Hillary vote. Idaho has less demanding laws and regulations on home building and businesses, so Oregon’s 2018 cost of living was 39% higher than Idaho’s. California’s was 47% higher.

Idaho would benefit from this proposal, as well. The state government would gain economies of scale, as the population would increase by 66% to 2.9 million, making it almost half the population of the average US state. At first, the average income of “Greater Idaho” would be half a percent lower than the current average, but the economies of the new parts of Greater Idaho would soon boom when released from the shackles of blue-state laws, regulations, and taxes. Idaho would no longer be a land-locked state, which could allow it to gain more political autonomy in the future. Idaho would have the satisfaction of freeing 1.14 million people from blue state law.

It is very unlikely that the legislature of Oregon or California would allow the creation of a new state because they would not want more Republicans in the US Senate, and giving them US senators affects the presidential electoral college. Even Congress is unlikely to approve the creation of a new state, especially when it is controlled by Republicans. From the point of view of US Senators, giving extra senators to every state that is willing to become multiple states is a dangerous precedent that would ultimately weaken the voice of their own state in DC. This is all the more dangerous today, when progressives are looking for ways to ameliorate their disadvantage in the electoral college.

If you favor the idea of “Greater Idaho”, please read the section of this proposal outlining the next steps. We need your help to spread the word about this idea; please join our Facebook group.

Why the Oregon and California Legislatures are likely to approve this deal

1) Financial: Important financial benefits to Oregon and California are described above. By letting relatively poor counties go, Oregon’s and California’s average incomes increase. Making the average income higher by reducing the number of poor counties in the state would not directly increase a resident’s income, but it would help the state government’s finances to the point that the state could reduce tax rates, or at least reduce the budget deficit. This effect is very large and would pay off every year.

The loss of a large amount of land should not concern the state Oregon legislature because there is no state property tax. A state legislature cares about the per capita or per household income of an area because this indicates whether this area is a net contributor or net drain on the state government’s budget. State government revenue comes almost entirely from income taxes and sales tax (see below). Corporate taxes are a very small part of state revenues. As far as the state budget is concerned, people and their incomes matter, not land area. The only thing Oregon and California have to lose is the satisfaction of seeing a large footprint when they look at a map. Here’s the data for Oregon’s state budget:

Oregon and California counties would need to agree to take their share of their state debt as they depart the state. These debts and unfunded liabilities are already owed by each citizen of these states, so it is not really a cost of the border change.

Oregon and California are counting on their current population to pay the pensions for state employees that have already been obligated. Departing counties would need to agree on a scheme that would compensate Oregon and California for the loss of their population, by agreeing to pay into the pension fund according to a schedule. Idaho would need to avoid forcing the new counties to pay for the portion of Idaho state pensions that were already earned before the counties joined Idaho.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where agriculture, industrialization, and urbanization occur, remains united after the border change. 99% of the lowland agricultural portions of California’s Central Valley remain united as well.

2) Political: This proposal increases the power and sovereignty of the areas that remain in Oregon because it eliminates the political influence of the counties that leave the state. The population of Oregon would decrease 19%.

By letting conservative counties go, this deal makes the position of the Democratic Party stronger in Oregon and California. Their electorates would become more progressive. One way to measure the difference is to look at the 2016 election. In 2016, Trump won 39.1% of Oregon’s vote. If the border had been changed beforehand, Trump would have won 34.1%. This border change would make the percentage of the Trump vote in Oregon less than that of Washington, Illinois, or New York, although still more than Vermont, Massachusetts, and California.

In California, the border change reduces the population by only 0.9%. But the number of Trump voters would be reduced by 2%. Trump won 31.6% of California’s vote, but with this border change, it would have been 31.3%. This small benefit comes at little cost.

Idaho is one of the four reddest states in the US, so there is no risk that giving Idaho conservative counties would cost a Democrat an Idaho election.

The US Congress seats covering these departing counties are already held by Republicans, so this border change does not affect the balance of the US House of Representatives.

The US Senate would not be affected because Oregon and California would remain Democrats and Idaho would remain Republican.

For presidential elections, there are 538 electoral votes in the country. For every 754,000 people that move from a blue state to a red state, Republicans gain one vote, which is only 0.19% of 538. Since the population of the departing counties from Oregon is 785,121, Oregon would usually have one less electoral vote. During about half of the upcoming decades, California would have one less vote, if it allows the 355,192 people in northernmost California to become a part of Idaho. We regard this as insignificant compared to 538 votes.

The proposed border keeps the Willamette watershed in Oregon. In Oregon, the new border follows watershed boundaries except for a small amount of water at Prineville. Oregon could specify the amount of water they are owed from that portion of the watershed as a part of the deal. California could do likewise for its watersheds.

The wilderness in the departing counties is almost entirely federal land, so state law won’t affect nature much there.

3) Harmony and civility: The groups of counties changing to another state in this proposal voted very heavily for Trump. Their departure would reduce the partisanship in Oregon and California. There is a popular secession movement in these states. County governments in these counties have approved “gun sanctuary county” resolutions expressing their will to defy any more gun control from the state and refuse to enforce new gun laws. More gun control is surely coming now that progressives have more control in the legislature. Allowing these counties to leave reduces the chance of unrest and makes these states more harmonious ideologically. The map below was made in June 2018. The green counties had already passed the ordinance, and the yellow counties were committed to voting on it. Efforts were underway to get a vote in the orange counties.

4) Vote count: The Oregon House of Representatives is 63% Democrat. Democrats would be expected to be in favor of this proposal if they don’t live in the departing counties. There are 46 districts entirely within the counties that are not departing. 36 of these are held by Democrats. Also, 11 districts are almost entirely within the boundaries of the departing counties, and 10 of these are held by Republicans. There are 60 districts in the house. A coalition of northwestern Democrats and southern Republicans could give this proposal 46 out of 60 votes. If 9 out of 10 of the southern Oregon Republicans vote for this proposal, and 22 out of 36 northwestern Democrats vote for this (61%), the proposal would have 31 out of 60 votes.

The Oregon Senate is 60% Democrat. 22 of 30 districts are almost entirely within the counties that are not departing. 16 of these are held by Democrats. Also, 6 districts are almost entirely within the boundaries of the departing counties, and 5 of these are held by Republicans. Therefore, we would expect to get 21/30 votes. If all 5 southern Oregon Republicans vote for this proposal, and 11 out of 16 northwestern Democrats vote for this (69%), the proposal would have 16 out of 30 votes. Southern legislators would have a bright future as legislators for Idaho after the border is revised. Northern legislators would retain their seats.

In the California Assembly, most of Rep. Brian Dahle’s (a Lassen County Republican) district is covered by this proposal. The departing counties form small parts of only two other districts. Democrats have 61 out of 80 Assembly seats (76%). With Rep. Dahle’s vote, only 40 Democrat votes would be needed (66% of the Democratic Caucus).

In the California State Senate, each senator supposedly “represents” an unbelievably large number of people: one million. Our departing counties form small parts of three districts, but not a significant part of any. The senate district covering the northeastern corner of California, District 1, is vacant at the moment. Hopefully, the senator who gets that seat will be loyal to the departing counties. Democrats will have 29 out of 40 Senate seats (73%) when all vacancies are filled. Even without the first district vote, only 21 Democrat votes would be needed (72% of the Democratic Caucus).

Why the Idaho Legislature is Likely to Approve This Border Revision

We had a brief conversation with someone who asked the current Idaho governor and Attorney General if they would be willing to annex counties of eastern Oregon into Idaho. They said they wouldn’t say no, but it would have to be initiated by Oregon. They weren’t interested in publicly endorsing it at the moment, but they were willing to sign!

1) Financial: This proposal makes the tax base of Idaho broader. By increasing the land area of the state and increasing the population by 66%. If mining in one area declines, it may increase in another area.

The economy of southern Oregon and northernmost California would improve dramatically under Idaho law, regulations, and courts. These areas are mountains and arid highlands, just like Idaho. Idaho law and governmental focus are suitable for mining, logging, and agriculture, and it is business-friendly. As the economy improves, income and employment would increase, so that these areas would pay more than their share of Greater Idaho’s tax burden.

This proposal would bring more jobs to Idaho’s capital city. The state government would gain economies of scale, as the population would increase by 66% to 2.9 million, making it almost half the population of the average US state.If Idaho’s legislature is unconvinced, county governments in Oregon & California could offer to pay Idaho for the privilege of joining the state.

2) Political: 80% of Idaho state legislators are Republican. The Trump vote of Greater Idaho would have been 60.6%, whereas Idaho only gave Trump 59.3%. Idaho would have the satisfaction of freeing 1.14 million people from blue state law. The Idaho Legislature currently has only 70 representatives and 35 senators. This number could be expanded so that the districts in Idaho would not need to be redrawn. If both Oregon and California counties were added as shown, the population of Idaho would increase 66%, so the number of legislators should increase to 116 and 58.

Why Southern and Eastern Oregon and Northernmost California want Liberation

1) The economy of these counties would improve freed of state regulations, unfunded mandates, and taxes, as Idaho is more business-friendly and suitable for rural areas. Idaho has more pro-work welfare programs that preserve state finances. The cost of living would decrease because Idaho has less demanding laws and regulations on home building and businesses. According to the Missouri Dept. of Economic Development, Oregon’s 2018 cost of living was 39% higher than Idaho’s. California’s was 47% higher. Red states have lower costs of living.

Taxes would decrease. According to Wallethub.com, in 2018 Idahoans paid 7.75% of their income in state and local income, sales, and property taxes, while Oregonians paid 8.25% and Californians 9.47%. These taxes amounted to $3242 per Idahoan, $3971 per Oregonian, and $5663 per Californian. Oregon is increasing taxes in 2019. The red counties don’t want the big-spending welfare state that Salem forces on them. They will be happy to have state spending like Idaho’s. Wages would increase. For those not making minimum wage, wages are set by supply and demand for labor in the local area. Demand for labor would increase because Idaho’s laws and regulations are more conducive to business and hiring.

2) The improved economy and the gun rights (being more conducive to rural living) would increase the value of the land.

3) These areas agree with Idaho on culture-war issues and policy issues. As the philosophy of the Left has unmoored itself from Biblical morality, it will continue to move farther and farther from tradition, following trends of psychology wherever they lead. Idaho is one of the 4 most conservative states in the country, judging by the last two presidential elections. 80% of the Idaho Legislature is Republican.

4) These areas would have a bigger voice in a state with a smaller population. Oregon has 4.1 million people, California has 40 million, and southern Oregon plus Idaho would be 2.5 million. If California allows counties to leave, Greater Idaho would have 2.86 million. California senators represent one million people, whereas an Idaho senator represents 49,000.

5) If these counties became a part of a red state, liberals would be less likely to move there and conservatives would be more likely to move there. We don’t endorse the idea of trying to create a 51st state out of California because we know the state legislature of California would not allow it under present conditions, but the following map shows how strongly northern California supported the Jefferson secession movement:

See also:

At the time of this update of this document, 85% of 335 voters were in favor of our proposal:

How Southern Oregon and Northernmost California Counties Would Pay Their Share of the State Debt

Since the per capita debt of the state government of California is $11,680, and of Oregon is $7574, the government of each departing county would take on its per capita share of its state debt as a part of this deal. However, because they would be as responsible as any other Idahoan for Idaho’s $3133 per capita debt in the future after joining Idaho, Idaho would compensate the government of each county $3133 per capita. California counties would be left with a debt of $11680 – 3133 = $8547 per capita (Oregon counties $7574 – 3133 = $4441) which could be paid off with the issuance of county bonds, which could be paid off with a temporary county income tax. The cost of $8547 or $4441 should not be seen as a cost of switching governments. It is an already-existing debt that they would eventually have to pay even if they remain in their current states. The $3133 per capita cost to the State of Idaho is not really a loss to the State of Idaho, because the new Idahoan would become obligated to help pay for Idaho’s pre-existing debt ($3133 per capita) in return, along with other Idahoans.

How We Chose Counties


We didn’t include Trump-voting counties that were less conservative than Idaho unless they were located in the middle of counties that were more conservative than Idaho. We believe this strategy is necessary to increase the chances that the Idaho Legislature will accept this proposal.All of the Oregon counties included in Greater Idaho that are east of the Cascade Range are more conservative than Idaho except Umatilla County, which contains Pendleton. Averaged together, this group of counties east of the mountains gave 69.3% of its vote to Trump, whereas Idaho gave 59.3% to Trump. By including southwestern Oregon, Idaho would no longer be landlocked.To improve the compactness of Greater Idaho’s shape, for better governance, we recommend that Oregon split three counties (Wasco, Jefferson, and Deschutes) so that small protruding unpopulated areas can be added to Idaho. Counties are creations of the state and, historically, have often been split by acts of state legislatures. Legally, no approval from the counties involved is necessary.


Modoc and Lassen counties, in the northeastern corner of California, are far more conservative than Idaho. They are dependent on state spending, as more than one thousand citizens work at a state prison there, out of a population of 40,000 (which includes 3100 prisoners). Taken alone as a group, their population is too small to warrant a border change. Next to them are two counties, Shasta and Tehama, which contain Redding, at the northern end of California’s Central Valley. Taken together as a group, these four counties voted 66.4% for Trump, whereas Idaho voted 59.3%. The northern tip of Plumas and Butte County should be included to improve connectivity between Tehama and Lassen counties. Siskiyou County should be added since it is sandwiched between Shasta County and Oregon. In that case, adding Del Norte County would add another significant ocean port, that also has direct highway access, to Idaho. The six counties mentioned above, as a group, voted 64.2% for Trump, whereas Idaho voted 59.3%. Their per capita personal income (BEA PCPI) in 2017 was $42866, compared to Idaho’s $41826. The average annual income of Idaho state employees, per Idaho resident, is $1056. For these 6 counties, the same statistic is $1680, which is $624 higher. One might wrongly argue that these counties only have an adequate income because California state spending is higher there than Idaho state spending would be. But when averaged over 6 counties, the extra state spending is unnecessary because even if the extra $624 is subtracted from the region’s PCPI, the region still has more than Idaho’s average income. Anyway, it would be expected that Greater Idaho would choose to use the prison mentioned above for Greater Idaho’s inmates, as the population of Idaho is growing rapidly, and more prisons will be needed. If not, perhaps California could continue to operate the prison, and continue to pay these wages. The precinct-level detail in the map below of Trump’s election results shows that the southern portion of Del Norte is better off remaining in California, as is the precinct next to it in Siskiyou. The red precinct to the south of that is probably unpopulated as it is the slope of a national forest. Also, the southernmost tail of Lassen County should remain with California for compactness. A highway there runs East-West, and Californians shouldn’t have to pass through Idaho to get to Nevada there. The area is unpopulated anyway.

Implementation of this Proposal

The Oregon legislature might choose to allow a referendum to confirm that the area affected is in favor of the deal. These counties should have a single collective referendum as a group, not as individual counties. If this suggestion is not followed, and one county in the middle votes to oppose, it would be stranded in the middle of counties that voted to join a neighboring state. The same is true of California.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Liberty Block or any of its members. We welcome all forms of serious feedback and debate.