WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVO) — A bill proposed in Congress would send monthly payments of up to $1,200 for American adults and $600 for children, after a period of testing.
The Sending Unconditional Payments to People Overcoming Resistances to Triumph (SUPPORT) proposal was introduced on Friday by progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn).
“Poverty is a choice. For too long we have prioritized endless growth while millions are homeless, hungry or without healthcare” Omar said. “The pandemic has laid bare these inequalities. We as a nation have the ability to make sure everyone has their basic needs like food, housing and healthcare met.”
The bill would create an Office of Guaranteed Income Programs in the Treasury Department, and a provide $2.5 billion grant to be used in pilot programs across the country, beginning in 2023 until 2027.
The findings of the pilot programs would be used to create a national guaranteed income program in 2028.
To be eligible for the full monthly payment, taxpayers would need an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less, or $150,000 or less for married taxpayers. Those who earn above those amounts would see the payments scaled down at $5 per every $100 above those levels.
California is one of several states testing universal basic income for its residents. It’s believed to be the first statewide funding for such programs, which are gaining traction in cities across the country.
The idea has been around since at least the 18th century. Even the U.S. government experimented with it in the 1960s and 1970s under President Richard Nixon. It’s gotten new life in recent years thanks to former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, who launched aprivately funded guaranteed income program in his Northern California city in 2019.
Since then, mayors across the country have started their own programs, including one in Oakland earlier this year that pledges to give up to 600 families $500 each month. Last month, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city would spend $24 million to provide $1,000 per month to 2,000 households a year with “no questions asked.”
Critics of these programs say they offer a disincentive for people to work. That narrative has played out over the past year as the federal government has increased the amount of monthly unemployment benefits during the pandemic. Employers have reported labor shortages as the economy reopens, blaming the increased benefits for preventing people from seeking work.
But an independent review of the guaranteed income program in Stockton found full-time employment increased among people who got the money during the first year of the project. At the start, 28% of people who got the money had full-time jobs. After one year, 40% did.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.