New Bill Would Give Nearly Every Californian $1,000 a Month, Similar to Andrew Yang's Freedom Dividend Plan

A proposed California law would provide most adults in the state with a universal basic income (UBI) of $1,000 per month, similar to the proposed plan of former presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

The California Universal Basic Income Program was introduced by Democratic California State Assemblymember Evan Low on Thursday. Low was the co-chair of Yang's campaign and the proposal bears a striking similarity to the former candidate's national plan.

"I've just introduced Assembly Bill 2712- California Universal Basic Income (UBI).. Continuing your work, @AndrewYang. #HumanityFirst #UBI," Low tweeted on Friday.

I’ve just introduced Assembly Bill 2712- California Universal Basic Income (UBI).. Continuing your work, @AndrewYang . #HumanityFirst #UBI

— Evan Low (@Evan_Low) February 21, 2020

The program would be paid for with a state value-added tax of 10 percent on goods and services, with exemptions for groceries, medicine, medical supplies, clothing, textbooks and other items. Recipients of several programs, including the state's Medicaid plan, would be ineligible.

Yang dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination on February 11, after disappointing results in the New Hampshire primary.

The longshot Yang campaign garnered a surprising amount of support and his UBI proposal popularized the idea to an unprecedented degree. Yang dubbed the payments offered by his plan "Freedom Dividends," which would have mirrored the Low plan in giving most U.S. adults $1,000 per month.

Critics of Yang's plan are likely to have similar critiques of Low's proposal. Funding the program with a value-added tax has been blasted by some who believe such a tax would disproportionately burden the poor. Concerns have also been raised over potentially forcing people to choose between UBI and other existing public assistance programs.

Evan Low
California State Assembly member Evan Low speaks at an event in Los Angeles, California on September 29, 2018. Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Equality California/Getty

California is currently experimenting with UBI on a much smaller scale. A select 125 low-income residents of the city of Stockton are being given an unconditional $500 per month, with the payments having no effect on other forms of public assistance.

Alaska's Permanent Fund Dividend has been doled out to residents of the state annually since 1982. The popular program is financed by the state's oil and gas revenues and bears some resemblance to UBI, although it is delivered only once a year. The amount is also variable from year to year, with values ranging from $878 to $2,072 over the last decade.

A small number of additional experiments have occurred across the country in the past, but UBI has yet to receive the type of mainstream support likely needed to become implemented nationally.

Proponents of UBI argue that the Yang plan and others could counter the anticipated problem of increasing automation inevitably leading to widespread unemployment. Experts warn that a large percentage of the workforce is likely to be decimated by automation, with some studies estimating as many as 73 million jobs eliminated by 2030.