CA launches narrow 'guaranteed' income...for now

CA launches narrow 'guaranteed' income...for now

CA launches narrow 'guaranteed' income...for now

California’s legislature has approved a guaranteed income plan, at the moment intended only for a small segment of the population, but an economic analyst says it’s naïve to suggest more people won’t be next in line.

According to The Associated Press, California is the first state to pass such a plan that promises monthly cash payments, from a taxpayers’ pool of $35 million, to qualifying pregnant women and to young adults who have recently left foster care.

The cash comes with no restrictions on how to spend it, or the amount of the monthly payments, but local governments that will run their own programs must apply to the California Department of Social Services for funding, the AP said.

Steven Greenhut, a California-based policy analyst at economic think tank R Street Institute, says it is unlikely to find many people opposed to helping pregnant women and recent foster children. There is, however, the looming issue of government guaranteeing a payment itself, he adds.

“The big problem is this constant push to have universal basic income,” Greenhut advises, “and we're going to have city councils inundated to keep expanding the program, and expanding it in the amount of money paid and people receiving it."

The legislation passed without a single objection in the Senate and Assembly but a Republican lawmaker, who abstained from voting, told the AP the legislature should be encouraging work.

“Guaranteed income doesn’t provide the job training and skills needed for upward mobility,” Assemblyman Vice Fong said.

Mirroring the assemblyman’s complaint, Greenhut says the funding will be another “big hit” on California’s general fund.  

“What the state needs to do is promote a healthy business climate," he says. "Instead of all the regulations and restrictions on people who create jobs, we need to make it easier for people to start businesses, create jobs, and hire people in productive endeavors."