Economics in Brief: California is First to Provide State-Funded Guaranteed Income Plan
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Economics in Brief: California is First to Provide State-Funded Guaranteed Income Plan

california assembly voting on the floor

In this May 26, 2020, file photo, members of the state Assembly meet at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. On Thursday, July 15, 2021, California lawmakers approved a bill that would fund guaranteed income programs across the state. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool, File)

California is the First State to Pass Guaranteed Income Plan for Expectant Mothers and Young Adults Leaving Foster Care

California lawmakers voted unanimously to approve a guaranteed income plan for eligible expectant mothers and young adults who have recently left foster care, the LA Times reports. The state has committed $35 million to this project, which is taxpayer funded.

Qualifying adults will get anywhere from $500 to $1,000 with no restrictions on how the money needs to be spent. California is the first to pass a state-funded guaranteed income plan, but other programs have been set up in cities like New Orleans and Tacoma, Washington.

Guaranteed income plans are growing in prominence across the nation as a new Data for Progress survey of 1,137 likely voters finds that a bipartisan majority of Americans (55%) support guaranteed income.

Democrats overwhelmingly support this policy at 75%. Enthusiasm is similarly high among Hispanic/Latine and Black voters at 74% and 79%, respectively. Participants generally agreed that receiving guaranteed income would help them prepare for financial emergencies.

The study also tested opinions on the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, a policy implemented through the American Rescue Plan. Overall, 61% of voters were in favor, with 56% saying they support its permanent expansion post-pandemic.

Maine and California Will Provide Free School Meals for Every Student ー Regardless of Income

Maine and California will provide free breakfast and lunch to every student, the Portland Press Herald reports. The federal government made school meals free during COVID-19 and will continue to do so into the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, Maine and California have announced they will continue free meals into 2023 and beyond.

Advocates believe this action would help improve access to healthy foods for thousands of students as the Maine Department of Education reports that only 38% of students are eligible for free or reduced meals. A family of four would have to make $34,450 or less annually in order to participate. But, the Press-Herald said, that income eligibility level is so low that some families who are struggling financially may not qualify for the free meals.

“I have a lot of experience over the years walking into cafeterias and seeing kids not eating a meal because, ‘My parent would be angry if I ate a school lunch. We can’t afford it,’” Mary Emerson, a worker in the Westbrook School Department said.

Federally, Senators Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Representatives Ilhan Omar and Gwen Moore have also introduced the Universal School Meals Act of 2021, which would offer free breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack to all students across America.

California Legislators Push Corporations to Create Diverse Boardrooms

The California legislature’s diversity caucuses sent hundreds of letters to the state’s biggest corporations, asking them to comply with laws that require appointing women and minorities to executive boards, The Sacramento Bee reports.

Senate Bill 826 and Assembly Bill 979, passed in 2018 and 2020, respectively, each require the appointment of underrepresented groups, especially women, to board positions at publicly held companies with their headquarters in California.

Both laws are being challenged in court.

California companies face a serious diversity problem as Latinos, who make up approximately 40% of the state’s population, only account for 2.3% of board appointments, The Sacramento Bee adds. White workers make up the majority, having 81% of appointments, followed by Asian Americans at 10.9%.

“It’s time for these companies — many of which are based here in California — to channel their words into decisive action,” Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Cambell wrote, in a statement. “Representation matters because those diverse, lived experiences have the potential to reverberate across a company’s culture, inspire the next generation of leaders and make companies more accountable to their customers.”

This article is part of The Bottom Line, a series exploring scalable solutions for problems related to affordability, inclusive economic growth and access to capital. Click here to subscribe to our Bottom Line newsletter. The Bottom Line is made possible with support from Citi.

Solcyre (Sol) Burga is an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2021. Burga is completing her degree in political science and journalism at Rutgers University, with plans to graduate in May of 2022. As a Newark native and immigrant, she hopes to elevate to voices of underrepresented communities in her work.  

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Tags: californiaschoolsdiversity and inclusioncorporations

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