Hawaii could be the first state to implement universal basic income

“The economy remains stable, everyone benefits, and no one is left behind.”

SOURCETrue Activist

Faced with one of the highest rates of homelessness in the country, Hawaii is seeking to pass a progressive new law. Universal basic income would end the extreme poverty that overshadows Hawaii’s faltering economy.

“As far as I’m told it’s the first time any state has made such a pronouncement, but I think it’s an important statement of our values here in Hawaii on which we seek to act,” wrote Rep. Chris Lee (D) in a statement via Reddit. Hawaii currently has the highest cost of living in the country.

The bill, House Concurrent Resolution 89 (HCR 89), says all citizens deserve basic financial security. Rep. Lee presented the proposal to legislature, where it was unanimously passed by both houses.

According to Rep. Lee, “HCR 89 also establishes a Basic Economic Security Working Group co-chaired by the Department of Labor and Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to analyze our state’s economy, and find ways to ensure all families have basic financial security, including an evaluation of different forms of a full or partial universal basic income.”

Legislation cites the impact of automation on Hawaii’s tourism-driven economy, and heavy reliance on minimum wage service jobs. Air BnB especially, say representatives, has majorly driven down the hotel industry. They fear that automated cars will soon put taxis and car services out of business.

“Efforts to increase wages, benefits, and working conditions are important steps to assist local families in the short-term, but a paradigm shift in policy will soon be necessary as automation, innovation, and disruption begin to rapidly worsen economic inequality by displacing significant numbers of jobs in Hawaii’s transportation, food service, tourism, retail, medical, legal, insurance, and other sectors” states the bill.

The bill also says that the proposal was modeled after pilot projects in Finland, Kenya, Uganda, Ontario and Oakland, California. The economy will be analyzed and different forms of income will be determined. Rep. Lee also points out the gap in wealth has continued to worsen. He says a change in policy will “ensure that the economy remains stable, everyone benefits, and no one is left behind.”


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