Washington State lawmakers have introduced a bill that could create a pilot program for a Basic Income! This is very exciting news for low income families in the area.
This proposed bill, Senate Bill 6625, acknowledges the drastic income inequality in Washington. Since it’s only proposed, it is not actually law yet. If you support the idea of a basic income in Washington, you should let your state lawmakers know that you support this bill! You can contact them here.
The bill states, “The legislature declares that all Washington families deserve basic financial security and that it is the goal of the state of Washington to ensure economic sustainability for all families. The legislature therefore intends to enact a pilot program of basic income and supports to provide a cohort of low-income individuals engaged in job training programs with access to housing and a cash stipend for essential needs to better stabilize and access opportunity.”
What is basic income?
Often referred to as “Universal Basic Income,” a basic income is a consistent cash payment that is distributed to everyone regardless of how much money they make or how much they work.
Washington’s proposed legislation is a bit different, but that’s the general concept of a basic income.
What does Washington’s Basic Income bill do?
If this bill becomes law, the pilot program will provide 500 randomly selected families from across the state with $500 per month. Participants will also receive assistance with food stamps and the essential needs and housing support program.
The pilot program will run from January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.
Who would qualify for the Basic Income pilot?
In order to participate, a household must be eligible for food stamps and reside in Washington State. It appears that participation in some sort of job retraining or part-time employment will also be required.
Although the proposed legislation does not list other requirements, the pilot program may have additional eligibility rules if/when it becomes law. In fact, the law specifically states that DSHS “has the discretion to develop other eligibility criteria.”
How does this program affect SNAP, WIC and other benefits?
According to Section 2 of the proposed legislation, the cash assistance provided through the pilot program would not affect any other means-tested programs. That means this income will not be counted toward your food stamps, TANF or other benefits.
What else will the pilot program do?
The program would be administered by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), the same agency that oversees food stamps, Medicaid and other benefits.
The point of the pilot program is to help the government gather data about the viability of this program. As a result, the state will gather information about the mental, financial and other impacts of this program during the study.
Some of the information that the government intends to track include:
- Participants age, race, gender identity
- How the money is spent
- The affect of the money on the participants physical, mental and financial health
- If (or how) the participant’s employment status changes
The proposed legislation adds that the state can track “other outcomes as determined by the department,” which could mean just about anything.