Global Affairs

California Democrats advance universal basic income bill with no funding mechanism

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti last week announced what would be the largest universal basic income program in the country, dedicating $24 million in his proposed budget to provide $1,000 per month to 2,000 families.

Low’s measure would dwarf that program, coming in with a price tag that could exceed $200 billion, according to committee estimates. AB 65 originally proposed levying a one-percent tax on residents with income of more than $2,000,000 annually, but that was scrapped from the bill.

Alaska has had a program in place for decades that distributes oil profits to residents, the closest thing to state-sponsored basic income.

What’s next: Low called on lawmakers to organize a select committee to further explore the concept of universal basic income, an idea a number of Democrats at the hearing said they supported. He acknowledged that AB 65 is not a “fully cooked” proposal, but argued it is one that deserves continued conversation in the Legislature.

“Look at what we’re doing right now, we’re having dialogue about the policy of basic income,” he said. “And, by the way, we’re seeing many iterations of this in our local communities because individuals are hurting, everyday Californians are hurting.”

Democrats on the committee lauded Low for championing the effort, calling it an idea worthy of discussion in the coming weeks and years.

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