SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KERO) — California lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a bill funding guaranteed income programs across the state.
California would be the first in the country to fund those programs at the state level. Multiple cities including Stockton, Los Angeles, and Long Beach have all announced their own local programs.
What is Guaranteed Income?
Guaranteed income is a type of cash transfer program that provides continuous unconditional cash transfers to individuals or households. This differs from typical social safety net policies by providing a steady, predictable stream of cash to recipients to spend however they see fit without limitations. Guaranteed income policies and their variants, including basic income, citizen dividends, partial basic income, and universal basic income, have minimal or no eligibility requirements. A guaranteed income may or may not meet basic needs.
Through the programs, individuals would receive money from the government with no rules on how to spend it. It's designed to reduce the stress of poverty.
“It changes the philosophy from ‘big brother government knows what’s best for you,’” said state Sen. Dave Cortese, a Democrat from San Jose. “We’ve been very prescriptive with that population as a state and as counties go. Look at the failure. Half of them don’t get their high school diplomas, let alone advance like other people their age.”
But critics — like Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — say guaranteed income programs are “wealth transfer from productive individuals to those who may choose not to be productive.” He said a more appropriate use of taxpayer money would be scholarships or something else that incentivizes education.
“It’s less offensive if it is targeted to people who truly need it,” he said.
Lawmakers have set aside $35 million to be awarded in grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations.