LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — In a rare bipartisan move, California lawmakers Thursday approved state-funded cash payments for young adults leaving foster care and for expectant mothers, with no restrictions on how the money is spent.
Guaranteed income programs have been widely praised and now California will unveil a plan of its own, with the amount of cash payments depending on where recipients live, but politicians on both sides of aisle agreed the program is the right thing to do.
“If you look at the stats for foster youth, they’re devastating,” Senate Republican Leader Scot Wilk said in Sacramento Thursday. “They’re half as likely to graduate from high school. Their chances of graduating from a CSU, only about 4% do that. And if you talk to the CDCCR, they don’t have hard facts, but they believe as many as 20% of the prison population are former foster youth.”
The guaranteed income bill passed unanimously in both the state Assembly and Senate.
The bill will set aside $35 million in monthly cash payments to qualifying pregnant people and young adults who recently left foster care. Local officials will determine the size of the payments, which may range from $500-$1,000 per month, with no restrictions on how the money is spent.
“I believe we should be doing all we can to lift these young people up,” Senator Wilk said.
A smaller version of this program was launched in Stockton and is widely viewed as a success.
In 2019, then Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs rolled out guaranteed income for 125 people who lived in neighborhoods where residents were living at or below the city’s median household income. Recipients received monthly checks for $500.
“We’ve seen it during this pandemic, that the quickest way for recovery is actually investing in our folks, allowing them to increase consumer spending, allowing them to shelter in place, allowing them time off to get vaccinated,” the former mayor said.
Officials with the Stockton program said that recipients spent 40% of the monthly checks on food, 25% on merchandise and 12% on utilities. Tubbs also said that the guaranteed income program did not discourage people from looking for and finding work.
“The hard facts and data illustrate that actually guaranteed income, something as small as $500…a month, allows people to go to work, allows people to take time off to look for full-time jobs, allows people to have agency in figuring out what types of jobs to work in,” he said.
There is also a guaranteed income program in the works in Compton.
“The Compton Pledge is a two-year guaranteed income initiative that has dispersed $2 million out of a total of $9.2 million over the course of two years to benefit 1,770 Compton residents,” Nika Soon-Shiong, the Compton Pledge Director, told CBSLA.
There are critics of the guaranteed income bill that passed Thursday, like Republican Assemblyman Vince Fong, of Bakersfield, who abstained from today’s vote.
“Guaranteed income programs undermine incentives to work and increase dependence on government,” the assemblyman said.
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