[Fox News] Guaranteed basic income programs spread across the country: Is it coming to your city?

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Guaranteed basic income (GBI) programs have become a trend across the U.S. in recent years with more than 100 GBI pilots launched since 2018.

Fox News Digital last week spoke with Michael D. Tubbs, the president of an organization called Mayors for Guaranteed Income, to discuss why cities have been launching GBI pilots. 

Then-mayor of Stockton, California, Tubbs launched the organization Mayors for Guaranteed Income after noticing a “lack of economic opportunity” in Stockton and abroad.

Tubbs said considering the city of Stockton’s small size and limited budget, he knew a GBI program would not be feasible. 

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On the other hand, Tubbs knew he could test the idea and then evaluate it so that the data could be used to prove it to the state and federal governments.

Mayors for Guaranteed Income grew into a coalition of 150 mayors pushing pilot GBI programs, offering low income participants up to $1,000 a month with no strings attached. The group has pushed GBI pilot programs that have been adopted by municipalities across the country

However, while studies have shown that the pilots have been beneficial, some of these programs face funding and legal challenges.

“No city can do a guaranteed income at scale because we can’t deficit spend. A guaranteed income at scale has to be done by the federal government, much like we saw with the child tax credit,” Tubbs said.

 “And that’s been an argument we’ve been making the whole time, but, we can’t wait for the federal government. And oftentimes we have to inspire and push the federal government to act,” Tubbs concluded.

Here are four examples of where the GBI push is happening. 

Austin’s city council in April approved a $1.3 million contract to keep its guaranteed income program running after it launched in 2022.

After the Austin City Council launched the measure, the state capital became the first major city in Texas to use tax dollars to fund “guaranteed income” programs. 

The guaranteed income program received $1.1 million in taxpayer funding and an additional amount of over $500,000 raised in philanthropic donations for the program when it started.

A recent survey showed that the city’s guaranteed income program helped address the problem of housing insecurity in the city.

San Antonio is another Texas city that implemented an income pilot program.

A guaranteed basic income program pilot in Cambridge received high praise from participants in the program. 

In order to qualify for the program, Cambridge residents need to be 18 and older, have an income below 80% of the area median income, and live as a single caregiver with at least one child under the age of 18.

The program’s success led to the City of Cambridge expanding the program last year with the use of $22 million in COVID relief funds and philanthropic contributions–the program now being called Rise Up was scaled city-wide to provide $500 cash assistance for 18 months to approximately 2,000 families.

Sustaining funding for the program is currently a challenge for city officials as federal COVID relief funds are drying up. According to the Boston Globe, Cambridge city officials are inhibited by a Massachusetts law that prevents the use of the city’s budget to fund the program.

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The City of Phoenix in 2022 implemented a universal basic income program for a year using $12 million of federal COVID relief funds.

According to the Arizona Mirror, the sponsor of the bill, Republican Rep. Lupe Diaz, compared a guaranteed income to socialism, slamming the program. The program gave 1,000 low-income families $1000 a month.

Eligibility required participants to earn less than 80% of the city’s median income of $63,200 to qualify, according to a local news outlet.

The Arizona House of Representatives in March voted on a bill that would prohibit guaranteed-basic-income programs in the state.

House Bill 2375 was supported unanimously by Republicans and no Democrats. The bill still needs to go through the state senate, which has 16 Republicans and 14 Democrats, in order to become law.

Other cities that launched guaranteed-income pilot programs are Durham, North Carolina, and Baltimore, Maryland.

The Harris County Commissioners Court passed Uplift Harris last year by a vote of 4-1.

However, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a ruling on Friday prohibiting Harris County from operating the guaranteed income program.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Harris County arguing that the program is “plainly unconstitutional.” A state lawmaker told Fox News Digital that the program violates Texas’ constitution, calling it “lottery socialism.”

Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee said that he is “extremely disappointed by the Texas Supreme Court’s decision.”

“Local governments exist in part to help the less fortunate among us, and the Supreme Court’s ruling effectively ends a program that has proven to be highly successful at allowing lower income folks to lift themselves out of poverty,” he added.

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The guaranteed income pilot would allow participating households to receive $500 per month for 18 months. The program began on Jan. 12, and currently has 1,924 applicants enrolled.

Other counties that launched pilot programs are Cook County in Illinois; Wayne County in Michigan; and Los Angeles County in California.

While GBI’s have received some push back, Tubbs told Fox News Digital that such critics are “out of touch with what’s really happening in their communities.”

“I think the issue is just one of politics and sort of unenlightened elected officials who were just out of touch with their constituents because just they’re just making six figures off the public—off of taxpayer money for a long time,” Tubbs told Fox News Digital.

“American voters support a guaranteed income, including 40% of Republicans,” Tubbs added.

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