trump california
Donald Trump exits after speaking at a campaign rally in San Jose, California, June 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

President Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that he may “defund” the state of California after tussles over the Golden State’s stand on immigration is something that's easier said than done, reports show.

In an interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly before the Super Bowl, Trump said: “We give tremendous amounts of money to California,” without mentioning that the state also adds to the federal coffers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

While there have been attempts by groups in the state to push for California’s secession in the past, President Trump’s election has given a significant push to the movement backed by the Yes California Independence Campaign.

“We definitely see that there’s some newfound support for this [secession] and we want to get the signatures out there, especially now because we're in the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency when he's going to be aggressively pursuing his policies that the people of California are going to reject — and have rejected,” Louis Marinelli, president of the Yes California Independence movement, told CNBC last week.

In such a backdrop, Trump's comments may backfire.

As Trump threatens to pull federal funding for the state, the president may have overlooked the fact that if California were a nation, its economy would be the world’s sixth largest. The LA Times reported that there was speculation that the state could even move up a place in the aftermath of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

A clear leader among U.S. states when measured by gross domestic product, California also plays an important role in feeding the country. Data from the Legislative Analyst’s Office showed the state overtaking Iowa, Texas and Nebraska to top the list of food-providing states, with over $45 billion worth of farm production in 2015.

So the question is — how much does California get from the federal government as compared to what it gives?

The LA Times cited estimates from the Legislative Analyst’s Office to state that the federal government spends around $367.8 billion in the state annually, most of which is common for all states. On the other hand, according to data by Internal Revenue Service — averaging numbers for 2013, 2014 and 2015 — California’s tax contribution currently stands at about $356 billion.

While the actual secession of California is far from reality because of the lengthy constitutional processes involved, the president’s comments may fuel secessionist sentiments in the state.

"We think it's going to be quite easy for us to make the sell," Marinelli told CNBC. "California is a different place and has its own culture, its own history, its own identity, its own world view, and its own ideology in a large respect. So we would feel better off if we can set our own destiny, set our own path forward and not be connected to a lot of these obsolete policies of the American system."