King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove on Thursday proposed a study of a King County Basic Income Program to analyze the benefits of a guaranteed monthly income for residents.
StoryKing County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove on Thursday proposed a study of a King County Basic Income Program to analyze the benefits of a guaranteed monthly income for residents.
“The economic disruptions brought on by COVID-19 have cast a spotlight on the devastation caused by losing one’s income,” Upthegrove said. “When a person’s livelihood is taken away or reduced substantially, the impacts resonate throughout not only their own life, but also the broader community. I want to see if the guarantee of a monthly income can stabilize people’s lives and open doors to new opportunities that previously would have been unaffordable.”
The concept of a guaranteed basic income has been around for decades and has been tried in countries as different as Kenya, Finland, Spain, India, and Canada. Some programs offer a universal basic income which is provided to everyone regardless of their financial situation. Others provide a guaranteed basic income to certain population groups such as those on a very low-income, single parents, or those experiencing unemployment. Later this summer, the city of Tacoma will launch a guaranteed basic income pilot in which 100 residents will receive $500 a month for a year.
“Although basic income programs have been around for a while, they are primarily run out of cities. I am interested to learn what a county program might look like and how it could be structured to best assist those who need it the most,” Upthegrove said. “What kind of qualifications would be best? What goals would be meaningful and measurable? A study that provided such answers could drive future policy discussions and now is the perfect time to look at creative economic ideas.”
Upthegrove plans to add the request for a study to the county’s spring supplemental budget which is expected to be passed in late June.