Story at a glance

  • California’s state legislature approved legislation to give a basic income to qualifying residents, specifically pregnant persons or those out of foster care.
  • The bill, passed with bipartisan support, aims to help socioeconomically vulnerable residents earn a living wage.
  • The guaranteed income concept has been piloted across several different cities in the U.S.

On Friday, the California state legislature approved a measure to pilot the country’s first guaranteed income plan, allocating $35 million for monthly cash payments to qualifying Californians.

The Associated Press reports that the plan will focus on delegating stipends to qualifying pregnant people and young adults who are recently out of the foster care system. There are no restrictions on how to spend the income. 

“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.”

The bill passed with resounding bipartisan support in both chambers: 36-0 in the California Senate and 64-0 in the Assembly.


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The idea of guaranteed income gained national traction during the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries, when candidate Andrew Yang ran on the platform of instituting a universal basic income.

Since then, elected officials have lobbied to implement the idea, most notably with the coalition Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. The organization’s founder, Michael Tubbs, piloted a guaranteed income program as mayor of Stockton, Calif. 

"California's investment in guaranteed income pilots is a major leap in the movement to provide an income floor to all who need it, marking the first time a state has ever supported guaranteed income pilot funding," Mayors for a Guaranteed Income spokesperson Saadia McConville told The Hill. "We applaud Governor Newsom and the legislature for leading the way nationally and recognizing that cash is a powerful tool in what should be everyone's shared goals of ending poverty, combating income inequality and building economic stability.”

Other municipalities like New Orleans; Oakland, Calif.; Gainesville, Fla.; Denver; and Tacoma, Wa. also recently approved state funded income programs. 

The amount of the payments stipulated in California’s new program are projected to range from $500 to $1,000 based on previously existing programs.

Published on Jul 15, 2021