St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter has issued an executive order that will give 150 families in need $500 a month through a guaranteed basic income pilot. Carter announced the program on Sept. 3 at a press conference, Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported.
Carter made the decision due to a “series of compound crises” including poverty that has been further exacerbated by covid-19.
“More than ever before, this economic crisis has pushed families into crisis, struggling to maintain basic necessities for their children,” Carter said in a statement. “This demonstration pilot is an exciting new approach to support our most vulnerable families while helping build the case for permanent guaranteed income programs at state and federal levels.”
Officially titled the “People’s Prosperity Pilot, Saint Paul’s Guaranteed Income Demonstration Program,” the pilot will last for 18 months. In a city with more than 315,000 residents, Carter said 70,000 have applied for unemployment since the dawn of the pandemic.
“We have more families right now that are experiencing homelessness, more families that are out of work, more families that are struggling to feed their children,” Carter said. “If our budget does not reflect our values, they’re not our values.”
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Carter is a member of Mayors For A Guaranteed Income, a network of mayors from across the country working to implement monthly cash payments to low-income families as a policy to mitigate poverty and achieve wealth and income inequality. Some of the network’s ideals stem from Dr. Martin Luther King’s anti-poverty program.
Carter and his peers in the network are the latest in a growing number of politicians proposing universal basic income (UBI) policies. A similar program was approved in Stockton, California last year.
Former President Barack Obama, Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders and others have also come out in favor of universal basic income before.
“It’s not just money that a job provides,” Obama said in a portion of a speech devoted to economic policy. “It provides dignity and structure and a sense of place and a sense of purpose. So we’re gonna have to consider new ways of thinking about these problems, like a universal income.”
Mayor Carter said the increase in crime across the country could be tied to families being under economic duress.
“What’s changed in our country right now, what’s changed so drastically in 2020, in such a way that cities across our country experience an uptick in violent crime all at the same time, if we were to troubleshoot that, what’s changed is not a number of police officers, what’s changed drastically is an amount of desperation,” Carter said
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