To Expand Economic Security in the Wake of Automation, Assemblymember Low Introduces California Universal Basic Income Program

Friday, February 21, 2020

SACRAMENTO—Assemblymember Evan Low (D–Silicon Valley) introduced AB 2712 this week, which would establish the California Universal Basic Income (CalUBI) program to provide all Californians over the age of 18 with the option to receive $1,000 per month.

AB 2712 is modeled after former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s Freedom Dividend. Yang popularized the idea on the campaign trail, claiming that the Freedom Dividend would “help society transform through the greatest automation wave in human history.”

“We must continue the conversation on how the job loss that comes with automation will profoundly change our economy,” said Assemblymember Evan Low. “The innovations and technologies created in California today are already disrupting our workforce. It’s time that we consider the merits of expanding economic security through a universal basic income.”

Those currently receiving benefits from California social safety net programs like CalWORKS and CalFresh would have a choice between participation in those programs or the CalUBI program. 

Currently, the City of Stockton is experimenting with a form of universal basic income by giving a select group of 125 residents $500 per month for 18 months. Initial data from the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) show that recipients, by and large, spend the money on basic essentials like food, clothes, and utility bills.

In the State of Alaska, since 1980 all residents receive a check ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 per year from the Alaska Permanent Fund (APF), which is funded by oil revenues. One study estimated that the APF dividend “lifted 15,000 to 25,000 Alaskans out of poverty annually.”

 

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