Wednesday, July 8, 2020 - 4:05pm

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway is joining thirteen other mayors from across the country to launch Mayors for a Guaranteed Income network, a coalition of mayors who will advocate for guaranteed income programs at the federal, state and local level.

When Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for the immediate abolition of poverty, he had an economic dream of a guaranteed income for all Americans. More than 50 years later and against a similar backdrop of civil unrest, these mayors are bringing that dream to life.

In the United States, wealth and income inequality have reached historic highs. Nearly 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a single $400 emergency, and rising income inequality is compounded by a growing racial wealth gap. The median white worker made 28 percent more than the median Black worker and 35 percent more than the median Latinx worker in the last quarter of 2019.Additionally, the median wealth of white families is more than $100,000 while the median wealth of Black families is approximately $10,000. COVID-19 has further exposed the economic fragility of most American households, and has disproportionately impacted Black and brown people.

The impact of COVID-19 on our economy has been devastating. Over 1.5 million people filed for unemployment in the US this month alone. Locally, Dane County has seen a dramatic increase in families in need of emergency food resources and rent assistance. Various unemployment programs have been slow in coming online and some workers do not qualify. A guaranteed income would be a faster, more flexible way of getting support to those who need it as a monthly cash payment given directly to individuals, empowering recipients to address their most urgent needs and providing a cushion for unpredictable expenses, external shocks, and volatility. It is unconditional, and is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep economic disparity and vulnerability in our country. Having a guaranteed income could open up so many doors for people who are facing turbulent times,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway. “The notion is not a new one. Republican President Dwight Eisenhower thought it was a good idea, but there has been resistance to this type of direct support to families. My hope is that a growing group of Mayors will lead the way on educating people about the concept, and engage in pilot programs when grant funds are available to demonstrate that households really do make wise financial choices and are best positioned to navigate their way out of poverty on their terms.”

Mayor Rhodes-Conway joins the following Mayors: Michael D. Tubbs from Stockton, CA; Chokwe Antar Lumumba from Jackson, MS; Melvin Carter from St. Paul, MN; Ras J. Baraka from Newark, NJ; Aja Brown from Compton, CA; Eric Garcetti from Los Angeles, CA; Adrian Perkins from Shreveport, LA; Libby Schaaf from Oakland, CA; Victoria R. Woodards from Tacoma, WA; Stephen Benjamin from Columbia, SC; Keisha Lance Bottoms from Atlanta, GA; William Peduto from Pittsburgh, PA and Robert Garcia Long from Beach, CA.

Mayors for a Guaranteed Income is founded in partnership with the Economic Security Project. The coalition is also announcing a new partnership with What Works Cities, a Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative, to elevate lessons learned and expand best practices to additional cities across the country.

A resolution in support of guaranteed income was just approved by the United States Conference of Mayors. The resolution calls for the advancement of the following principles:
  • Advocate for a guaranteed income at the local, state, and federal level.
  • Invest in narrative change efforts to highlight the lived experiences of economic insecurity.
  • Invite all cities to join this effort, and provide technical assistance and funding support for new pilots.

The USCM resolution (full text linked here), which was adopted on June 30 at the organization’s 88th annual meeting in Washington, D.C., encourages guaranteed income as a solution to economic insecurity, inequality, and poverty. To learn more about Mayors for a Guaranteed Income visit www.mayorsforagi.org.

ABOUT MAYORS FOR A GUARANTEED INCOME
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income is a coalition of mayors who will explore cash payment programs in their cities as a response to COVID-19 resulting in nationwide economic insecurity. The mayors will advocate for guaranteed income programs. Against a similar backdrop of civil unrest more than 50 years ago, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for the immediate abolition of poverty, and his economic dream of guaranteed income for all Americans. Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, CA founded the coalition following the success of his Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED), funded by several philanthropic organizations, including the Economic Security Project. To learn more about Mayors for a Guaranteed Income visit www.mayorsforagi.org.

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