NEW JERSEY – Getting a paycheck for doing nothing could be in the future for residents of New Jersey’s largest city. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka says the city is going to study a pilot program to provide a universal basic income, or basically guaranteeing income for all city residents, disregarding U.S citizenship.
He made the statement during his annual State of the City address Tuesday night at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
The city has launched a taskforce to see if the program is feasible with help from the Economic Security Project and the Jain Institute.
“We believe in Universal Basic Income, especially in a time where studies have shown that families that have a crisis of just $400 in a month may experience a setback that may be difficult even impossible to recover from,” Baraka said.
He noted that a third of the city still lives in poverty. He didn’t release any more details on the plan, like how it would be funded or when a final decision would be made.
There has not been a successful long-term Universal Basic Income program. A small basic-income program that was tested in Finland was ended after one year.
Baraka was re-elected last year to a second term as mayor of the city of 280,000 residents.
High-profile liberals, like freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have embraced the notion as a way to help working-class Americans amid the economic disruptions caused by the growing automation of the economy.