Universal basic income and related words in a word cloud collage (Photo: Shutterstock)

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As the bellwether for many policy ideas, California could takethe lead once again. Democratic Assemblyman Evan Low has introduceda bill to create a universal basic income for state residents.

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The Hill reports that the bill, AB 2712, faces an uphill battle despite itslimitations—the proposed California Universal Basic Income Programdoes exempt people already using Medi-Cal, County Medical ServicesProgram, CalFresh, CalWorks or Unemployment Insurance fromreceiving what would be a $1,000 monthly payment for residents over18.

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The money to finance those payments would come from a new 10percent value-added tax on goods and services in the state,although the proposed tax would not apply to "medicine, medicalsupplies and equipment, educational materials, including textbooks,tuition or fees for education, food, groceries, and clothing."

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Not only does the bill have to clear committee, it will thenhave to be approved by both houses of the state's legislature.

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The city of Stockton in California already has embarked on theuniversal basic income experiment, which began in April of 2019,although its mayor is not totally supportive of Low's versionbecause of its exemptions. Stockton provides a $500 monthly stipendto 130 residents for a total of 18 months.

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Michael Tubbs, Stockton's mayor, tweeted about the new proposedlegislation that he was "still opposed to any plan that wouldexclude those on existing benefits or have them give up theirbenefits in exchange for a ubi, especially while other people noton benefits do not have to lose anything to gain."

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Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who withdrew from thepresidential race earlier this month, had also proposed a universalbasic income of $1,000 per month as a major plank of hisplatform.

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And Finland had engaged in a UBI experiment that has since terminated; dataindicate that it resulted in better health and well-being among therecipients.

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Marlene Satter

Marlene Y. Satter has worked in and written about the financial industry for decades.