California finds more money to start Guaranteed income plans

Despite critics’ claim that guaranteed income reduces work incentives, the idea has been gaining popularity across the U.S., with California’s adoption of a taxpayer-funded program being the latest in a series of experiments with monthly cash payments.

California lawmakers on Thursday approved the first state-funded guaranteed income plan in the United States. The plan will provide $35 million in monthly cash payments to qualifying pregnant people and young adults who recently left foster care with no restrictions on how they spend it.

The votes – 36-0 in the Senate and 64-0 in the Assembly – showed bipartisan support for an idea that is gaining momentum across the country. Dozens of local programs have sprung up in recent years, including some that have been privately funded, making it easier for elected officials to sell the public on the idea.

California’s plan is taxpayer-funded, and could spur other states to follow its lead.

“If you look at the stats for our foster youth, they are devastating,” Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk said. “We should be doing all we can to lift these young people up.”

Local governments and organizations will apply for the money and run their programs. The state Department of Social Services will decide who gets funding. California lawmakers left it up to local officials to determine the size of the monthly payments, which generally range from $500 to $1,000 in existing programs around the country.

The vote came on the same day millions of parents began receiving their first monthly payments under a temporary expansion of the federal child tax credit many view as a form of guaranteed income.

“Now there is momentum, things are moving quickly,” said Michael Tubbs, an advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom, who was a trailblazer when he instituted a guaranteed income program as mayor of Stockton. “The next stop is the federal government.”

For decades, most government assistance programs have had strict rules about how the money could be spent, usually limiting benefits to things like food or housing. But a guaranteed income program gives money to people with no rules on how to spend it. The idea is to reduce the stresses of poverty that cause health problems and make it harder for people to find and keep work.

Story continues at: csmonitor.com


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