Lawmaker Proposes $1,000 Universal Basic Income for California Residents -- Should Other States Follow the Suit?

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Following in the steps of the former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Wang, California state lawmaker Evan Low has proposed a universal basic income in the state.

Low introduced the California Universal Basic Income Program on Tuesday, highlighting that it would give residents over 18 years old a basic income of USD 1,000 per month.

In his announcement of the bill, California Assemblyman Low invoked Andrew Wang, who made the idea of basic income for all Americans central to his short-lived presidential campaign.

Surprisingly for many, Yang ended his presidential campaign earlier last month, although he outlasted some more high-profile and experienced candidates.

Per Low's bill, the California Universal Basic Income program will be funded by a new state value-added tax of 10% on some goods and services. The proposed fee would not apply to groceries, medicine, clothing, textbooks.

According to the proposal, not every resident would be eligible. For instance, recipients of several programs, including the state's Medicaid plan and unemployment insurance, would not be qualify.

Yang's idea to finance the program with a value-added tax has been blasted by many who think that it would disproportionately burden the poor. Also, some critics opined that people would be forced to choose between the universal income and other established social assistance options.

The proposal for universal basic income is not new in California.  In April 2019, the city of Stockton started a test program providing 130 residents with USD 500 for 18 months.

Stockton's mayor Michael Tubbs commented on Twitter that he would oppose any plan that would exclude people on existing support programs or would require them to give up their benefits in exchange for the universal income.

Not many US states had been experimenting with universal basic income programs so far. Since 1982, Alaska is paying the so-called permanent fund dividend once a year. The program is funded by the state's oil and gas revenues. The amount is not fixed, it varies from year to year, with values ranging from USD 878 to USD 2,072 over the last ten years.

Supporters of the idea for universal basic income argue that it could partly solve the issue of increasing automation and subsequent job loss. According to some recent studies, 73 million jobs will be eliminated by 2030.

The bill has a long way to go before becoming official. First, the committee should approve it and pass it to both houses of the state Legislature.

What do you think? Do you support or oppose the universal basic income program for all Americans?