Last week, the California legislature passed a budget that spends billions of dollars to attack poverty in the state. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed it into law, in so doing increasing funding for cash welfare, providing $1.5 billion for affordable housing, and also providing more resources for eviction defense, the state’s Medicaid program, homelessness aid, and myriad other anti-poverty programs. In what Newsom termed “perhaps the most significant anti-poverty initiatives that we’ll be passing this year,” the new budget also more than doubles the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and creates what might be the country’s first child allowance—or at least, the closest thing yet to one.
Under the state’s new child tax credit, all families in poverty will receive a $1,000 refundable tax credit for each child under the age of six. The only catch is that families must have at least $1 in earnings to be eligible.
“We could call it a universal allowance, you might call it a guaranteed income,” says Jessica Bartholow, policy advocate at the Western Center on Law and Poverty. “It says to households with children that they will have minimally an annual income of $1,000.” If, of course, they report some earnings.