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Spokane

Forming a new state in E. Wash. not likely

SPOKANE, Wash. - Two local lawmakers are proposing a bill that would separate Washington State, and form a new state called "Liberty east of the mountains.

That bill was proposed by state representatives Matt Shea and Bob McCaslin. For many, forming a new state sounds like a good idea.

"The opinions politically are so different, like, so drastically different on either side of the mountains, so I guess it makes sense," said Washington resident Meggie Tennesen.

But, to make it actually happen wouldn't be so simple.

"I could think of a thousand ways where this could just go nowhere," said Michael Treleaven, a political science associate professor at Gonzaga University.

In his proposal, Shea says the cultures and lifestyles are so drastically different in the west and east sides of our state, that Washington needs to separate.

"I always find it fascinating that this resurfaces from time to time, but, no, I wouldn't support it and don't even think it's a realistic possibility," said Washington resident Monte Huntsman.

And, Huntsman is right. It really isn't that realistic.

"To actually do this is hard work for a long time," said Treleaven.

Treleaven says to form the State of Liberty would take years, and require hardly any political opposition. It would first need to be approved by the State House and Senate, then the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. Not to mention, Liberty would have to figure out how to pay for itself. Eastern Washington tax payers don't pay enough to fund schools and roads, and rely on state money.

"It would have to decide that it would either raise its own taxes, or do with less," Treleaven said.

He adds, proposing a bill like this is nothing new.

"Every legislative session in recent years anyway, in Oregon and Washington, someone has introduced a bill to say Eastern Oregon or Eastern Washington should be made separate states," said Treleaven.

He says if a bill like this wants to be taken seriously, it needs to be introduced with a majority of Washington residents showing favor for such a split. He says getting that voter approval would likely be expensive, and won't happen any time soon.

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart released a statement against the proposal Tuesday afternoon.

It reads: "As Spokane City Council President, I feel like this is a perfect time to remind my fellow Eastern Washingtonians that our state is stronger together than it would be apart. From the fertile beauty of the Palouse to the majesty of the Cascades, from the alpine air of Spokane to the coastal rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula, ours is a truly unique state. I am extremely appreciative of the statewide partnerships that allow us to improve the quality of life for all of Eastern Washington, and I feel that it is foolish to ignore the tax dollars paid by citizens on both sides of the Cascade Mountains that go to build projects like the North-South Corridor, establish the Washington State University Medical School, and provide millions of dollars in grants to clean up the Spokane River. I am a proud Washingtonian – from the Idaho border to the Sound." 


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