Twitter CEO and Co Founder, Jack Dorsey addresses students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), on November 12, 2018 in New Delhi, India.
Amal KS | Hindustan Times | Getty Images
The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted some advocates to call for providing Americans with guaranteed monthly income to help them get back on their feet.
Now, one initiative is getting a $15 million donation from Twitter CEO and billionaire Jack Dorsey to help put such experiments to work.
The organization is Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a group of about 30 mayors across the country who have signed on to test guaranteed income pilot programs in their cities.
The group is led by Mayor Michael Tubbs of Stockton, Calif., who has created a similar program in his city. This summer, he founded Mayors for a Guaranteed Income to help other mayors across the country establish similar programs.
The timing of the initiatives are crucial, Tubbs said, as federal help provided through the CARES Act earlier this year runs out.
Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton, poses for a photograph at his office in Stockton, California on February 7, 2020.
Nick Otto | AFP | Getty Images
“So many of our constituents were in food lines for Thanksgiving,” Tubbs said. “We have people calling our offices asking how they’re going to pay for their water bill or their utilities or folks who are terrified about eviction moratoriums expiring.”
The $15 million provided by Dorsey will help fund the guaranteed income pilot programs. Every participating city will be given up to $500,000 to help accelerate the programs they were already launching, Tubbs said.
It’s up to each city how they want to structure their program and the amounts. In Stockton, the payments are $500 per month.
Dorsey’s contribution is in addition to $3 million he had already gave to the organization.
On Tuesday, the Twitter CEO tweeted, “Thank you Mayor and to all the Mayors of @mayorsforagi for these universal basic income pilots! I hope they inform federal policy in the future.”
Tubbs said he hopes the program can help set an example for political leaders in Washington, D.C., to follow.
“We are doing this not just because we have big hearts, which we do, but because there’s a need and because [Sen. Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell has been blocking such progress in the Senate,” Tubbs said.
“Covid-19 has made it very, very clear to build back better we have to make sure everyone has an income floor,” he said. “We’re all taking considerable political risk in doing this, but we understand that the biggest risk is nothing changes.”
One Stockton, Calif., resident who participated in the city’s guaranteed income program — the Stockton Economic Empower Demonstration — said the money helped her through a tough time after she lost her home due to a fire.
“I’m breathing a sigh of relief at this point, because I think without being with SEED or being a participant, I don’t think I would be sitting in this chair right now,” Laura Kidd-Plummer said.
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