SACRAMENTO — Tuesday, Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger) and her colleagues sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom requesting that the proposed Universal Basic Income Pilot Program in this year’s budget proposal include farmworkers who have been displaced by drought and a Supplemental Guaranteed Income to farmworkers who have had their hours significantly reduced due to drought.
“Farmworkers worked in the shadows and risked their lives to make sure we had food on our tables” said Senator Hurtado. “The drought, extreme heat, the pandemic, and overtime pay rules are creating a dire situation for them. By expanding the proposed UBI program to farmworkers, it’s not only an investment in farmworkers — but in all of California. California not only has the revenue — but has the compassion to support farmworkers, many of whom disproportionately bared higher COVID-19 infections during the pandemic.”
Governor Newsom included $35,000,000 over five years for the California Universal Basic Income Pilot program in this year’s May Revision. Due to the drought, there has been a reduction in the amount of land that needs to be worked this year. The heat also reduces the amount of time that farmworkers are able to work to a six-hour maximum on days 100 degrees or hotter. Farmworkers who are able to work the maximum time allowed before overtime pay, at $14.25 an hour for 8.5 hours a day, will only bring home $2500 a month. If there are only six days of 100-degree heat in a month, they will take home $2,200 for the month.
This legislative session, Senator Hurtado has introduced Senate Bill 464, which will expand the eligibility for state funded food benefits to undocumented immigrants, ensuring all residents can access food assistance. Senator Hurtado’s SB 108, which will declare it to be state policy that all people have access to sufficient, healthy food.
The Senator also introduced Senate Bill 559 — the State Water Resiliency Act of 2021. Senate Bill 559 will allocate $785 million to repairing vital water delivery systems that provide drinking water to communities throughout California and water to sustain the state’s leading agricultural economy. The funds would go to fixing the Friant-Kern Canal, the Delta-Mendota Canal and major portions of the California Aqueduct, all of which have degraded and are losing water as a result of subsidence — the actual shrinking of land.