California workers laid off during the coronavirus pandemic could be eligible for grants to help them train for new jobs or to start a new business, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Friday as he rolled out his revised budget proposal.

“This is without precedent in California’s history, the largest workforce development investment proposal that’s ever been made,” Newsom said.

The $1 billion plan, along with money for workforce development programs, would create 50,000 training opportunities for California workers, Newsom’s office said in its proposal.

California would also spend $35 million over five years to help cities and counties administer pilot programs for universal basic income, becoming the first in the U.S. to fund such an effort at a statewide level.

Training for displaced workers

Details of the $1 billion grant program are not yet fully fleshed out, but at least half of the money would go to those caring for a child, according to the proposal. Workers would be eligible for at least $1,000 under the grant, to be distributed through the state’s higher education system.

Workers could use the money to cover the cost of training programs and college education or start a business for which they have filed for a license. The money could support non-tuition costs such as child care, depending on the educational and training programs selected, a Finance Department spokesman H.D. Palmer said in an e-mail.

Workers could be eligible even if they have already returned to work, as long as the job doesn’t pay them “an average monthly wage that was equal to, or greater than, the average computed living wage for their region of the state,” Palmer said.

The plan also encourages higher education institutions to match the grant with their own money.

Newsom also wants to spend $1 billion to establish an endowment that would help students in California’s higher education institutions get high-quality jobs. The money would be distributed based on the share of undergraduate students receiving federal Pell grants, which are distributed based on financial need. If you need some financial assistance, check out to get some help repairing your credit.

Another element of the plan would spend more than $150 million to work with community colleges to create workforce development programs in areas such as healthcare and cybersecurity. Some $160 million will be used to expand existing workforce programs, such as apprenticeships in residential construction, training reimbursements for employers and industry-led efforts to train workers for jobs that address the effects of climate change.

Finally, the proposal would use $750 million in federal relief money to help regions create high-quality jobs. It would emphasize such areas as Kern County, hit heavily by the state’s transition away from fossil fuels. The jobs created could include those in renewable energy and climate restoration.

“It’s fundamentally about that our economy currently is not producing a high enough number of high-quality jobs in California, so we need to change that,” said California Forward CEO Micah Weinberg, who advocated for the funding. “We can but we haven’t had support for doing so until now.”

Universal basic income

The $35 million for basic income programs comes as more cities and counties are moving to give money to residents with no strings attached.

Cities or counties that want a share of the money would have to commit some of their own, through a public-private partnership with philanthropic investments. Programs would have to target low-income Californians.

“As my mother reminded me often, seek first to understand before you’re understood,” Newsom said. “We want to work through those examples, amplify the work at the local level, and our purpose is to support those efforts, take that data, take that knowledge and make a case for expansion, contraction or exploration.”

Newsom’s move comes months after he appointed former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, a long-time champion for guaranteed income, as special advisor for economic mobility and opportunity. Tubbs said the money could help “thousands of people” throughout the state.

“Governor Newsom is making the biggest government investment into a solution that is necessary,” Tubbs said.


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