Rep. Dvorak has proposed House Joint Resolution 3 which would add language to the state constitution creating an “Indiana Permanent Fund” which would ultimately be used to pay annual dividends to Indiana citizens.
The way it’s structured, any year in which the State realized a budget surplus, half of that surplus would be placed in the Permanent Fund. (The state would have the discretion to put such additional money in there as it saw fit.) The principal of the fund would be invested in income producing investments designated by law. For the first twenty years, the fund would simply be allowed to grow. After that, an increasing percentage of the income earned on the principal could be distributed to eligible recipients. In years 20-40, it would be up to 5%; years 41-60 it would be up to 10%; years 61-80 it would be up to 15%; and in years 81-100 it would be up to 20%. After a century, the amount would jump and be up to 95%. (Kind of the big thinking about our tricentennial I mentioned a few years ago!) To be an eligible recipient, a person “must have voted in the most 27 recent general election in which the person was eligible to vote 28 occurring before the payment of the dividend.”
My initial impulse is to like the idea. But I doubt I’ve really wrapped my head around the collateral consequences of this sort of program. By locking up the surplus, the State wouldn’t have as much flexibility in dealing with short term problems. Maybe it would discourage saving because lawmakers wouldn’t have as much of a slush fund for their short term priorities? Obviously long term planning is a hard sell. None of us will be around in a century, and five percent in 20 years isn’t a huge carrot. On the other hand, we’re going to need to figure out some way of funding people’s needs that doesn’t necessarily rely on having a job, because the robots are coming. That’s great for the people who own the robots, but the people whose livelihoods are displaced by automation still need to live; preferably good lives.