State Watch

Chicago passes budget with one of country’s largest universal basic income programs

Chicago will use $35 million to test a universal basic income program for one year.

The city will send $500 to 5,000 low-income families as part of what Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has said is the largest universal basic income program in the country, according to The Chicago Sun-Times

“This program is controversial for some. But for me, it just makes plain sense,” Lightfoot said of the program, per the Sun-Times. “Of course, we need to teach people how to fish. But, in this moment with so many people suffering in pain and worrying about financial ruin, this is what we must do to make sure that these families don’t slip into the abyss.”

The plan comes as part of Lightfoot’s $16.7 billion budget for 2022, which passed in a City Council meeting on Wednesday. The mayor touted her win as “the most progressive budget ever in the history” of the city, the Sun-Times reported. 

The universal basic income checks will be funded using some of the almost $2 billion Chicago received from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan. While most of Chicago’s 50 aldermen supported this use of the funding, the 20 members of the city’s Black Caucus were disappointed the money did not go to violence prevention programs, according to The Washington Post

Basic income programs have also started in places like Stockton, California, where 125 residents received monthly stipends in 2019. Since then, research from earlier this year indicated that recipients have reported more full-time employment and better mental and emotional health, the Post reported.

Since Stockton’s stipends were issued, roughly 40 other cities have started or considered starting similar programs, the Post added.

The Hill has reached out to Lightfoot’s office for more information.

Tags Chicago Lori Lightfoot Universal Basic Income

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