Our main document explains the benefits and practicality of moving the Idaho state border to include rural Oregon and northernmost California. You can find our main document here
Some of the answers in this FAQ are more completely answered there.
Yes, it’s constitutional, and state lines have been moved before. The last time the Oregon state line was moved was 1958, although that was a small adjustment. West Virginia was admitted to the Union in June 1863. Later, the Virginia/West Virginia border was moved in August 1863 to annex Berkeley County to West Virginia, and then again in November 1863 to annex Jefferson County.
In Oregon so far, 11 counties have voted in favor of moving the border. Polling is strong in western Oregon and in Idaho. Visit our homepage to read why we believe that both state legislatures should want to approve this plan.
The cost will be negotiated between the two states. Remember, Oregon should want to cut their losses because they subsidize eastern Oregon. Idaho would be doing western Oregon a favor to take these counties on.
The state government’s assets are owned on behalf of all Oregonians. Since eastern Oregonians are part owners of state assets and liabilities, a reasonable starting point for negotiations would recognize the propriety of eastern Oregon (9% of Oregon’s population) taking 9% of the state government’s assets and liabilities with them, in return for giving up claims to 91% of western Oregon state government assets.
For Idaho, any initial cost would be paid off over time. Under Idaho’s lower taxes and regulation, the economy of these eastern counties will surge, providing a big benefit to Idaho’s state budget. The benefit to Idaho’s budget of adding southern and eastern Oregon would be $170 million annually, according to a Claremont Institute study.
Idaho is the state with the 8th smallest tax burden, and Oregon ranks 33rd, according to
https://taxfoundation.org/facts-and-figures-2020 . Combining all taxes together, including sales tax, the average Idahoan pays $1722 less in taxes per year than the average Oregonian. That’s averaging together every adult or child, employed, retired or unemployed. And cost of living is 39% higher in Oregon than in Idaho. Did you know Oregon has hidden sales taxes paid by retailers? Oregon tax rates will continue to go up due to a lack of willingness to control spending
Only 7 percent of Oregonian workers and 2% of Idahoan workers earn minimum wage. Everyone else’s wages are set by supply and demand in the labor market, not by law. So your wage is not likely to decline. Yes, Idaho’s minimum wage is much lower, but counties can increase their minimum wage if they want to do so.
By the way, a low minimum wage allows people to get their first job and prove their worth. A high minimum wage closes businesses in rural areas. That’s one of the reasons Oregon’s unemployment rate is so much higher than Idaho’s.
According to the USDA, rural Idahoans have a slightly higher income than rural Oregonians, despite having a far lower cost of living and much lower overall taxes. https://data.ers.usda.gov/reports.aspx?StateFIPS=16&StateName=Idaho&ID=17854
Idaho law allows CBD and hemp products that have no detectable THC. CBD and hemp products are available in Idaho stores. Growers in southern Oregon are switching from marijuana to hemp. In 2019, it was 80% hemp. Idaho legalized hemp farming in April 2021. The Idaho Senate recently passed a bill to legalize hemp and CBD products that have less than 0.3% THC to match federal law. https://legalcbdoilidaho.com/did-president-trump-approve-cbd-oil
That will be determined by negotiations between state legislatures, but we feel confident that the economics and voting patterns will cause our proposal to be accepted. We propose that Idaho accept:
Oregon: Baker, Crook, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Wheeler. Plus:
a) That portion of Wasco County that is east of the Deschutes River, plus eveything within a few miles of the City of Maupin
b) All of Jefferson County except Deschutes National Forest and Warm Springs Indian Reservation
c) Terrebonne, Redmond, Alfalfa, southeastern Deschutes County, Three Rivers, and La Pine.
If southwestern Oregon chooses to join the proposal, we’d love to welcome Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, and Josephine counties back into our proposal.
California: Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama, Modoc, Lassen, tiny portions of northern Butte, and most of northern Plumas County. Possibly all of Plumas County and maybe northwestern Sierra County.
Washington state: Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin counties, plus Waitsburg and Uniontown.
Idaho would not be willing to accept a group of counties that, on average, votes differently from Idaho
itself. Also, Oregon would want to remain contiguous and reasonably compact. If you are in western
Oregon, moving the border brings Idaho closer, so it allows you to experience the benefits of Idaho
governance without moving very far from your friends and family.
In 2022 we excluded southwestern Oregon from our proposal because Josephine and Douglas counties voted against our ballot measures. However, we’d be glad to add the region back into our proposal as soon as southwestern Oregon changes its mind.
Idahoans are very concerned about keeping their state as conservative as possible. They had 2.46 conservative votes per liberal vote in the 2016 presidential election, but eastern Washington only had 1.43.
Moreover, eastern Washington has a population of 1.6 million in 2017, as compared to Idaho’s population of 1.7 million. Idahoans don’t want to be outvoted by others in their own state, so they’re not likely to want to include such a large population into their own state. If Republican-voting southern Washington state is included, that’s an additional 0.8 million.
When we created the modern Greater Idaho proposal in 2019, we searched diligently for any possible combination of Washington State counties that would be both as prosperous and as conservative as Idaho. We only find this group of three counties: Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin counties, plus Waitsburg and Uniontown. We are including these counties in phase 2 of our proposal.
Here is a plan for the rest of rural Washington: split Washington into two parts that act as one state in the way that it interfaces with the federal government, but acts as two states in every other way, with separate state governments. This idea has been developed by a movement in New York state called New Amsterdam.
We tried that. Only 25% of Oregonians who are registered to vote are registered Republican. Each one only gets one vote no matter how hard they vote, no matter how much they care. It’s unlikely that an election that gets high turnout from the Right would not get high turnout from the Left. We know that from the last 38 years of history. The last Republican governor of Oregon was elected 38 years ago. The Left has far more control over the ways that Oregonians are educated and persuaded than the Right does. They control K-12, universities, Facebook, Google, media, and newspapers. Plus Californians are moving in faster than you can educate them. Liberals love “educating” voters too.
Our families pioneered these counties, so we don’t want to leave the land. We love our communities. We’ve invested years into relationships with friends, family, employers, churches, shops, and the land. It makes more sense for conservative counties to be under Idaho governance than Oregon governance. Eastern and southern Oregon voting patterns are very conservative; it would be expensive and wasteful for the majority of the 873,000 of us to try to find someone to buy all our homes and farms so that we can build new homes in Idaho.
Oregon used to have that, but unfortunately, in Reynolds v. Sims (1964) the US Supreme Court ruled against representation by county in favor of the one man, one vote principle. It said representation by county is “racist” and therefore unconstitutional for states, even though the Constitution ignores one-man one-vote for US Senate and establishes an electoral college for selecting the US president. Every US state that had such a state constitution revised their state constitution to meet the demands of the US Supreme Court. Another huge obstacle is that the Dems in the state legislature would never vote for that. So we choose to focus on a plan that is more likely to happen. And we hope you will too.
Having our own state would be great, but we want to focus our efforts on the idea that we believe would be most likely to actually happen. In Oregon, according to the US Constitution, both the State of Jefferson idea and the Greater Idaho idea would require approval of Oregon and Congress. Why would the Democrats in a blue state like Oregon approve a plan that adds two more Republicans to the US Senate? The Greater Idaho idea is more likely to be approved because it does not affect the US Senate at all.
That would be great, but we should focus our efforts on something that the Oregon Legislature would allow. Dems in the Oregon Legislature wouldn’t allow that because it would weaken the Democratic Party in Oregon, and increase the chances that we would add Republicans to the US Senate. But the greater Idaho plan doesn’t do that.
County and local employees would keep their jobs. Some state employees might move to keep their jobs in Oregon/California, others would become employed by Idaho, and maybe some would have to find new employment, since Idaho spends less on government. We are confident that any legislation to move the border would also grandfather in seniority and decide on a fair way for counties to bring their fair share of PERS into Idaho. Think about the risks of not moving the border: PERS is not necessarily sustainable. Major changes to state borders are accomplished by an interstate compact between two states. Negotiations between the legislatures of the two states would determine a fair way to treat employees affected by issues of transferring seniority and pension plans.
The interstate compact that moves the border would have to grandfather in licenses to avoid having the government overwhelmed with applications. However, many lawyers and police would need to learn Idaho state law. We predict that that legislation would give in-state (resident) prices to Oregon residents for hunting in the former counties of Oregon.
Eastern and southern Oregon have the same average income as Idaho does, so they should be economically sustainable, just like Idaho is.
Conservative counties don’t want to be dependent on the charity of the welfare state that Salem forces on them. They will be happy to have state spending like Idaho’s. People who want to live off of welfare are welcome to move to another county. We want an economy that is not held back by Oregon regulations and taxes, including environmental regulations. We’ll still have federal and Idaho regulations, and that’s plenty. Idaho knows how to respect rural counties and their livelihoods.
Idaho is one of the 5 most conservative states in the country, judging by the last two presidential elections. 80% of their legislature is Republican, and all the migration of the last two decades hasn’t changed that at all. It has the fewest pages of regulations of any US state. Its governance is better than Oregon’s or California’s. The change in Boise is just caused by sorting between urban and suburban. Boise only has 13% of the population of Idaho and hasn’t even turned its own county blue. Northwestern Oregon has 79% of the population of Oregon.
The population of Boise is estimated to be 223,000. That’s not even enough to outvote their own suburbs. The county that Boise is in, Ada County, voted Trump in 2016 and 2020. Boise is 13% of Idaho’s population. Northwestern Oregon is 79% of Oregon’s population. Adding these rural counties to Idaho would increase the population of Idaho by 71%, and reduce the influence of Boise voters in the state.
This plan does not move people to your counties. The counties of Oregon we want to add to Idaho voted for Trump in the same percentages (61.6% averaged over 2016 and 2020) as Idaho did. If we move the border, people would have more red-state counties they could move to instead of just your counties.
We are confident that we will convince Idaho to accept our counties. Polling there is very strong.
Congress usually approves interstate compacts approved by both a blue state and a red state. It approves several interstate compacts per year.
Votes on our ballot initiatives show that our proposal is approved by 62% of voters in rural Oregon.
We expect that the chances of the Greater Idaho movement being successful depend entirely on whether we are able to convince northwestern Oregon to let our counties go. Polling shows that only 3% of voters of northwestern Oregon are willing to pay the cost of keeping our counties in their state. The poll is described here: www.greateridaho.org/poll-3-of-willamette-valley-voters-think-retaining-eastern-and-southern-oregon-in-the-state-is-worth-the-cost
In July 2021 we published an op-ed in the most widely-read newspaper in the state explaining why northwestern Oregon should want to let us go: our counties are a drag on the budget, and our state representatives are causing gridlock in the Oregon Legislature. www.oregonlive.com/opinion/2021/07/opinion-shifting-oregon-idaho-border-can-help-us-all-live-in-peace.html
Perhaps our chances are less than 50/50 at this moment in history, but we know that we have a shot. Plus, the political environment can change.
Why would Oregon let eastern and southern Oregon take their share of the state government of Oregon’s snow plows, prisons, etc.?
First of all, eastern and southern Oregon paid for some of those assets.
Secondly, Oregon will save money if the lower-income counties depart, so the state is not losing from this deal: it’s cutting its losses.
Thirdly, these counties would take their shares of the state debt and the PERS burden as well.
Any interstate compact to move the border would specify how the state government of Oregon’s assets and liabilities will be divided between northwestern Oregon, on the one hand, and the rest of Oregon on the other.