California lawmakers passed the nation’s first state-funded guaranteed income program on Thursday, a plan that will reportedly provide monthly cash payments to eligible pregnant women and young adults who have recently aged out of foster care.
There will be no restrictions on how the recipients can spend the money.
According to The Associated Press, “Dozens of local programs have sprung up around the country in recent years, including some that have been privately funded, making it easier for elected officials to sell the public on the idea.” The outlet reported, “California’s plan is taxpayer-funded and could spur other states to follow its lead.”
The $35 million proposal had broad bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature, passing 36-0 in the Senate and 64-0 in the Assembly, with some abstentions.
Senator Dave Cortese, a Democrat from San Jose, led the drive to take the concept statewide. He recently told the San Francisco Chronicle, “Foster youth are an extraordinarily vulnerable population.”
“We have a demographic that’s launched into independence whether they are ready for it or not the minute they hit a certain age,” he said. “These are our children, and often they don’t have anywhere else to go for support on the first day of emancipation.”
Michael D. Tubbs, who the AP described as “a trailblazer when he instituted a guaranteed income program as mayor of Stockton,” is now an advisor to Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom. He told the outlet, “Now there is momentum, things are moving quickly,” adding, “The next stop is the federal government.”
Tubbs has worked with politicians across the country to implement similar policies in cities.
— Michael Tubbs (@MichaelDTubbs) July 15, 2021
More details from the AP:
The plan, contained in a bill related to the state budget, now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. Lawmakers gave final approval to other spending proposals Thursday, offering new details to the fiscal plan negotiated with Newsom over the past few weeks.
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…
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.
Assemblyman Vince Fong, a Republican from Bakersfield, abstained from Thursday’s vote. He claimed such programs “undermine incentives to work and increase dependence on government,” the AP reported.