Universal Basic Income Trial Run

By: George William

Californian Legislatures passed the first state-funded UBI. If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the bill, municipalities will be able to apply for the a portion of the $35 million. This program prioritizes foster childen who grew out of homes and pregnant mothers.

Four counties, Oakland, Marin County, San Francisco and Santa Clara County have implemented have similar programs where they give the participants $500-$1000 a month for 1-2 years. These however are privately funded mostly.

Los Angeles county supervisor Holly Mitchell, a member of Mayors for Guaranteed Income said, The pandemic “took the blinders off of what it means to live on the margins. Everyone saw it.”

“Cities are the laboratories of democracy,” said Sukhi Samra, director of the mayors’ group, and will “provide a proof of concept” for federal policies.

Sen. Dave Cortese, San Jose, said that government assistance programs are “very prescriptive about doling out social services. It really had a mentality of ‘we know what’s best for you weaker, poorer people.” He believes that UBI is an alternative to this.

“There’s a pretty plausible case to be made that the more generous you make unemployment benefits, the less anxious people are going to be to get back to work,” said Matt Zwolinski, director of the Center for Ethics, Economics and Public Policy at the University of San Diego in relation to UBI.

When faced with this criticism, supports reffer to the program in Stockton in 2019, which found that full-time employment among participants increased by 12% in the program’s first year. Participants, who received $1,000 monthly from 2019 to 2021, reported greater financial stability month to month.

“The pilot programs are worth doing. They provide some level of evidence,” Zwolinski said, but “there’s always going to be a leap of faith involved in jumping from a pilot program to say a full city-wide program to a full statewide program.”

Oaklands program will be the largest of those mentioned above. Giving a family of four making less that $65,000 a year $500 a month. San Francisco is offering $1,000 a month for 130 artists and 150 Black and Pacific Islander pregnant women. Marin County, 135 low-income women of color with $1,000 monthly and finally, Santa Clara County’s pilot program provides $1,000 a month to 72 foster youth. The programs either randomly select eligible residents or pull from an applicant pool.

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