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Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, California in his office in February. (Photo by NICK OTTO/AFP via Getty Images)

The news this week that Jack Dorsey of Twitter donated an additional $15 million to a group of 29 mayors who want to pilot guaranteed monthly income programs in their cities cast a spotlight on Michael Tubbs, the 30-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, who founded Mayors for a Guaranteed Income in June.

The big picture: Tubbs, who grew up in poverty and graduated from Stanford, created the first municipal program to provide a guaranteed stipend in February 2019, giving 125 households in Stockton $500 a month.

  • The effort was funded by the Economic Security Project, a brainchild of Chris Hughes of Facebook.
  • Tubbs was endorsed by former President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey in his 2017 mayoral run, and he's close with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (of universal basic income fame).

What he's saying: "Mayors for a Guaranteed Income came about as a response to COVID-19 and also a response to the protest the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer," Tubbs tells Axios.

  • "People weren't just protesting police brutality — they were protesting the violence of poverty and the violence of lack of opportunity."
  • Tubbs approached his fellow mayors in the spring saying, "Look, this is an opportunity for us to go big for our constituents — to say that they deserve an income floor — and to push our country forward."

In the Stockton pilot — now nearly two years old — "We found our folks spent money on food and utilities and rent and things of that sort, and not on frivolous expenses," Tubbs said. "We've also found that people are healthier" because they have less stress.

What's next: The latest grant from Dorsey (who gave Tubbs' group $3 million in July), will fund guaranteed income pilots in a growing roster of cities, like Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh.

What to watch: Tubbs himself was defeated in November and is making plans for when he leaves office in January.

  • "I have no idea what my title will be in the traditional sense, but I know I will be advocating for everyone in this country to be treated with basic human dignity," he says.

Go deeper: Twitter's Dorsey gives $15 million for guaranteed income projects in U.S. cities

Go deeper

Dec 10, 2020 - Health

Health disparities are worse in the U.S.

Data: Doty, et al., 2020, "Income-Related Inequality In Affordability And Access To Primary Care In Eleven High Income Countries"; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Socioeconomic disparities in health care are significantly worse in the U.S. than in other wealthy countries, according to a new study by the Commonwealth Fund, published in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: Wealthy Americans have long had better access to care — and therefore better outcomes — than poor Americans. And the coronavirus' disproportionate impact on low-income Americans and people of color has made those disparities glaringly obvious.

Tracking the pandemic's unequal impact

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult/Axios; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic was bound to hit the most economically vulnerable among us the hardest. New polling data from Morning Consult, out this morning, shows the degree to which those difficulties were more concentrated among people of color.

Catch up quick: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index has tracked the economic experience of adults in three wage groups since May 2020. We began publishing the findings in May of this year, and six months in, we’re slicing the data a little differently — and looking at inequality between ethnicities.

2 hours ago - Health

WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking in Geneva in October. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday in a new risk assessment that it believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk to the globe because it may be more transmissible than other strains of the virus.

Why it matters: Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."