California town to offer guaranteed income to residents

California town to offer guaranteed income to residents
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Michael Tubbs, the mayor of Stockton, Calif., is planning to offer a “no strings” guaranteed basic income of $500 a month to residents in an effort to combat poverty in the city. 

Under the plan, which is scheduled to take effect in 2019, a select group of city residents will be provided with a monthly stipend as part of an 18-month experiment, privately funded by a philanthropic network called The Economic Security Project, to assess how citizens will use the funds.

“And then, maybe, in two or three years, we can have a much more informed discussion about the social safety net, the income floor people deserve and the best way to do it because we’ll have more data and research,” Tubbs told Reuters.

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The Economic Security Project, which is co-chaired by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, has given $1 million to fund the trial run.

“I jumped at the opportunity,” Tubbs, 27, who added that he was familiar with the idea from reading civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings, told the publication.

According to Reuters, Hughes proposed the U.S. government provide citizens with a guaranteed monthly income of $500 to all Americans who earn under $50,000 annually, adding that paying for the $290 billion proposal could be done with a 50 percent tax rate on income and capital gains for those who earn over $250,000 annually would cover the cost. 

The concept of governments providing citizens with a universal basic income has gained some traction worldwide, including in the U.S.

In Alaska, all residents have long received annual dividend checks from oil revenues from the Alaska Permanent Fund, according to Reuters. 

And the Finnish government runs a trial that provides 2,000 unemployed people with payments close to $660 on a monthly basis.