Democratic mayors launch pilot program to implement Universal Basic Income

Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor 17 hrs ago

(The Center Square) – A group of 43 Democratic mayors from across the country is backing plans to provide certain low-income residents with a universal basic income.

Called Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI), the group argues that “economic security isn’t a new challenge or a partisan issue.” The way to end or reduce poverty, they argue, is to guarantee a certain level of income to low-income residents with no strings attached.

Called the new, “New Deal moment,” the MGI argue that providing certain residents with direct, recurring cash payments “lifts all of our communities, building a resilient, just America.”

About 40% of the participating mayors are located in the Northeast, with the greatest number, 7, located in California. The majority of mayors are men; roughly two-thirds of the mayors are black or Hispanic.

The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) is the country’s first mayor-led guaranteed income project. It is fully philanthropically funded and receives no taxpayer dollars. It initiated its pilot program in February 2019, first giving 125 residents $500 per month over an 18-month period.

Researchers from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Social Work and the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice are evaluating SEED, funded by the Evidence for Action program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In Oakland, Calif., eligible families with income at or below 50 percent of the area median income ($59,000 for a family of three) are eligible to receive $500 a month. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would test a new pilot program giving 2,000 families $1,000 a month.

In Jackson, Mississippi, low-income Black mothers began receiving $1,000 a month through two groups, Springboard to Opportunities and the Magnolia Mothers Trust.

Several cities have adopted resolutions supporting a guaranteed income, including Newark, N.J., Gainesville, Florida, Ithaca and Hudson, N.Y., Cambridge, Mass., among others.

Last December, MGI received a $15 million grant from Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter. Last fall, a center was established at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice to guide MGI pilot cities through a learning agenda and ultimately publish a report of its findings.

About 40% of the participating mayors are located in the Northeast, with the greatest number, 7, located in California. The majority of mayors are men; roughly two-thirds of the mayors are black or Hispanic.

The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) is the country’s first mayor-led guaranteed income project. It is fully philanthropically funded and receives no taxpayer dollars. It initiated its pilot program in February 2019, first giving 125 residents $500 per month over an 18-month period.

Researchers from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville College of Social Work and the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice are evaluating SEED, funded by the Evidence for Action program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In Oakland, Calif., eligible families with income at or below 50 percent of the area median income ($59,000 for a family of three) are eligible to receive $500 a month. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would test a new pilot program giving 2,000 families $1,000 a month.

In Jackson, Mississippi, low-income Black mothers began receiving $1,000 a month through two groups, Springboard to Opportunities and the Magnolia Mothers Trust.

Several cities have adopted resolutions supporting a guaranteed income, including Newark, N.J., Gainesville, Florida, Ithaca and Hudson, N.Y., Cambridge, Mass., among others.

Last December, MGI received a $15 million grant from Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter. Last fall, a center was established at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice to guide MGI pilot cities through a learning agenda and ultimately publish a report of its findings.

The Foundation for Economic Education argues the plan is foolhardy, arguing, “a welfare state by any other name is still a welfare state. And the UBI is just replacing one pricey system for another. And unlike the current welfare state, which has standards for determining who qualifies for certain aid, a UBI would be given to everyone. This would dramatically increase the pool of citizens receiving benefits from the state and inflict massive expenses across the board.”

According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last year, 54% of adults surveyed said they opposed a federally funded guaranteed income.

Of the 11,000 adults surveyed, two-thirds of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 “strongly” or “somewhat” favored a UBI. More than half of all other age groups opposed the idea; nearly three-quarters of adults age 65 and older oppose it. Sixty-four percent of whites surveyed opposed it, whereas 73% of Backs and 63% of Hispanics favored it. Nearly 80% of Republicans opposed it, whereas 66% of Democrats supported it, the Pew survey found.

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