If you were living paycheck to paycheck, what could you do with extra cash that came with no conditions attached?
A 2020 study from the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University found that income guarantees of as little as $250 a month for adults and children can reduce poverty by 40%.
When the pandemic exposed nationwide income inequality, Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, founded in June 2020, began advocating for a guaranteed basic income at the local, state, and federal levels.
Now, pilot programs are popping up across the country. The movement already has 100 mayors on board, and they’re getting county leaders to join the movement through Counties for a Guaranteed Income.
The founder, Michael D. Tubbs, former mayor of Stockton, California, and special advisor on economic opportunity and mobility with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office, launched the first mayor-led program in Stockton by selecting 125 random people, and guaranteeing them $500 a month for 24 months.
The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, also known as SEED, reported how participants spent the extra funds — for repairs when the car broke down, food, medical bills, and new shoes for their children. The pilot project concluded in February 2021.
The Stanford Basic Income Lab has also mapped out pilot programs across the country.
What is a guaranteed basic income?
A guaranteed basic income is a direct cash benefit from the government that provides people with money regardless of their employment status to support their basic needs. The movement is rooted in racial justice, and was first touted by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Panther party.
A universal basic Income differs, and provides everyone with a cash payment, on an individual basis and without an employment requirement, according to the Basic Income Earth Network.
Pilot programs across cities and counties are experimenting with the idea.
In August 2020, Pew Research Center reported that a 54% of U.S. adults opposed a federal guaranteed income, of about $1,000 a month, regardless if they worked. The opposition was mainly among white people, 65 and older.
The majority of support was among Black and Hispanic adults, and those from lower-income households.
But in both political parties, younger adults with lower income expressed higher levels of support for the issue too.
How is guaranteed basic income funded?
Currently, guaranteed basic income pilot programs are being funded through philanthropic donors and the American Rescue Plan Act.
There is no federal funding program.
A universal payment of $12,000 a year to each U.S. resident over the age of 18 would cost $3 trillion a year, the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded after studying this issue in 2019.
In 2021, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), introduced a measure to launch a 3-year pilot program and offer 6,000 people a cash payment equal to the fair market rent for a 2-bedroom home in their zip code.
But, that bill hasn’t moved since its introduction in July 2021.
Amritpal Kaur Sandhu-Longoria is the consumer watchdog investigative reporter on USA TODAY’s Money team. Send her your tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, @AmritpalKSL, or on Signal at (279) 789-2462.
Story Credit: usatoday.com