A bill that would give most Californians over the age of 18 $1,000 a month, costing the state between $67-129 billion a year, was passed in the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee on Monday.
According to Assembly Bill 65, authored by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) and co-authored by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), the proposed California Universal Basic Income (CalUBI) Program would be administered by the Franchise Tax Board (FTB). $1,000 a month would be given with no strings attached to all Californian residents over the age of 18, as long as they have lived in the state for at least 3 consecutive years and if the resident’s income doesn’t exceed 200% of the median per capita income for the resident’s current county of residence, as determined by the United States Census Bureau.
While AB 65 doesn’t say directly where funding for the bill would come from, it does say that a Universal Basic Income Fund will be created in the state treasury and administered by the FTB, meaning that state taxes would likely play a part in it. With the FTB estimating a yearly cost of $67-129 billion a year, since so much money would be going into the program, AB 65 makes it difficult for CalUBI funding from being moved elsewhere, such as through the provision that prohibits the FTB and the Controller from using any part of the CalUBI payments to offset tax liabilities or delinquent accounts.
Assemblyman Low wrote the bill to provide economic relief for lower-income Californians, to improve the lives of recipients, and to give recipients better personal, creative, and educational opportunities.
“Universal Basic Income would provide Californians with the financial security to take time for personal and creative pursuits, as well as go back to school for better career opportunities,” said Assemblyman Low on Monday. “The benefits translate to improvements in mental, physical and economic health. “As the recent federal stimulus package has shown, economic relief for vulnerable Californians can only be achieved by putting cash directly into their pockets.”
“We took a BIG step forward yesterday in the fight for economic justice, as the California Legislature — for the first time in its history — discussed the creation of a statewide universal basic income,” added Low in a follow-up tweet on Tuesday. “Plenty of work to do but we can build on this!”
The first UBI bill to make it past a committee
State UBI bills have been attempted several times in the past, such as last years AB 2712, but never made it past the committee level. However, several completed, ongoing, or approved UBI pilot programs have sprung up in the last several years in cities across California such as Stockton, Compton, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland. While the results have been mixed so far, the growing acceptance of UBI programs in California brought about the first Assembly Committee approval of a state UBI program.
“This was unexpected,” noted Cheryl Keating, a law researcher who has studied UBI proposals and programs in the United States and Canada. “This was the first time that an entire state made it past the first hurdle to passing it. This isn’t just some city pilot program giving income to a group of low-income families or artists. This is the entire state.”
“Before they do anything else, they need to nail down how they can possibly fund this. California has a surplus right now, but not nearly enough to cover this. And, for many residents and businesses, taxes are high enough as is. So where would this money come from?”
“That’s the literal $129 billion question. Hopefully more people will question it soon, or California is going to find itself in quite the predicament.”
AB 65 is due to be heard next in the Assembly Committee on Appropriation.
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