California budget has $35 million for basic income programs

The Toronto Star

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to use a sliver of the state’s massive budget surplus to give poor people money each month with no rules on how they spend it.

Newsom’s budget proposal, announced Friday, includes $35 million over five years to pay for “universal basic income pilot programs.” The idea is to give poor people money each month to help ease the stresses of poverty that can make it harder to find full-time jobs and stay healthy.

It’s believed to be the first statewide funding for such programs, which are gaining traction in cities across the country.

Newsom said his goal is to support these local programs so they can produce data to help policy makers decide if the idea will work at a larger scale. He says he wants California to be a catalyst “for conversations all across the country.“

The idea has been around since at least the 18th century. Even the U.S. government experimented with it in the 1960s and 1970s under President Richard Nixon. It’s gotten new life in recent years thanks to former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, who launched a privately funded guaranteed income program in his Northern California city in 2019.

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