By triggering $1,400 stimulus checks for millions of people and expanding the child tax credit for many families, the pandemic offered a clear takeaway for some officials: That putting tax dollars in people’s pockets is achievable and can be a lifeline to those struggling to get by.
Now a growing number of mayors and other leaders say they want to determine for sure whether programs like these are the best way to reduce poverty, lessen inequality and get people working.
In experiments across the country, dozens of cities and counties — some using money from the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package approved in March — and the state of California are giving some low-income residents a guaranteed income of $500 to $1,000 each month to do with as they please, and tracking what happens. A coalition known as Mayors for a Guaranteed Income plans to use the data — collected alongside a University of Pennsylvania-based research center — to lobby the White House and Congress for a federal guaranteed income or, for starters, to make the new $300 per month child tax credit that’s set to expire after this year permanent.
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