- LA County is proposing a universal basic income that would give $1,000 per month to 1,000 residents.
- The Board of Supervisors will vote on the three-year pilot program on Tuesday.
- Lawmakers are advocating for recurring payments to ensure economic stability beyond the pandemic.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
While the idea of a universal basic income (UBI) dates back hundreds of years, providing recurring aid to Americans is growing in popularity today, especially given the financial toll the pandemic has taken on the country.
And Los Angeles County might become the next part of America to turn the UBI idea into a reality.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday that LA County Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Sheila Kuehl are proposing a UBI pilot program that would provide at least $1,000 per month to 1,000 residents in guaranteed monthly payments for three years.
They said in their motion that even before the pandemic, the county’s residents suffered from financial instability, and “the safety net failed to address the structural issues that have been keeping many children and their families trapped in poverty.”
“We must fundamentally shift the idea that people who face financial insecurity have somehow failed, and instead recognize that it is the inequity and lack of access built into our economy and government assistance programs that have failed us,” Mitchell and Kuehl wrote.
The Board of Supervisors will vote on the measure on Tuesday, and if passed, the county chief executive’s office would have 60 days to establish a plan for the guaranteed income pilot program, according to the LA Times. LA County would be the largest county in the country to have a UBI program.
According to the Stanford Basic Income Lab, several cities have already proposed UBI programs, including in Tacoma, Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Insider reported that the idea dates back to the 16th century, when Spanish-born humanist Juan Luis Vives advocated for a system of unconditional welfare. Decades ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. declared his support for basic income at a Stanford lecture in 1967.
It became a key measure of Andrew Yang’s surprisingly influential presidential campaign, in which he proposed giving Americans $1,000 monthly payments, along with $2,000 monthly payments during the pandemic. Now he’s not only running for New York City mayor, but has emerged as a frontrunner, according to New York Magazine.
“If Congress had its s— together, we’d all be getting direct, recurring payments throughout this pandemic,” Yang told Insider in August.
Insider previously reported that a growing number of lawmakers are pushing for permanent and recurring aid to ensure equitable economic recovery and sustainable growth, even long after the pandemic is over. For example, a Senate bill last May, led by Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California, called for recurring $2,000 monthly checks to Americans for the duration of the pandemic.
A group of over 125 economists wrote an open letter calling for recurring payments tied to economic conditions beyond the single check for each American included in the December stimulus plan, and most recently, 21 Democratic senators urged Biden in a letter to include recurring direct payments in his $4 trillion infrastructure plan.
They wrote: “While we are pleased that the American Rescue Plan included a one-time direct payment and an extension of federal unemployment insurance programs, a single direct payment will not last long for most families, and we are worried about the cliff facing unemployed workers when the unemployment insurance extensions expire on September 6.”
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