Illinois Contemplates Unconditional Cash Transfers for Residents

There’s talk of a new policy being floated in Illinois that could make the lives of countless Illinoisans much easier. Here’s the full story.

Illinois Considers Guaranteed Income

Guaranteed basic income could be on the cards in Illinois. This week, lawmakers heard proposals from several different advocates, all pushing for guaranteed income for those who meet the necessary qualifications.

Senate Bill 3462 proposes introducing a $1000 per month guaranteed income for Illinoisans, regardless of immigration status. The bill states that people included in the eligibility would be people “who: (1) provides care for a child or other specified dependent; (2) recently gave birth or adopted a child; or (3) is enrolled in an educational or vocational program.”

The Future of Income Security

There’s no news on just how long these payments would last, although it’s expected to work on a flat rate period and then be judged on a case-by-case basis. The bill would mandate the creation of a task force within the Department of Human Services to explore how feasible such a program would be, to propose statewide policies and help implement them, and to oversee any implementation of these programs.

This task force must follow the bill’s tasks, including “reviewing the landscape of cash supports available to low-income residents of Illinois and identifying populations without significant access to cash supports.”

The task force would be dissolved by the end of 2027, after which the program would send out $1000 monthly to eligible residents.

Senator Ram Villivalam Leads the Charge 

This bill is sponsored by Senator Ram Villivalam, who stated, “Guaranteed income is a source of financial security and a proven policy that has supported veterans, new parents, foster youth, and communities across the nation.” 

Villivalam pointed to previous trials by cities in Illinois that have seen positive results, stating that “The impact is clear: in study after study, families benefit from direct assistance. They use it to pay rent, utility bills, car repairs, groceries or to clothe growing youth.”

According to researchers, guaranteed income programs have been trialed recently in Chicago and Cook County with successful results. They found that participants used the money on essentials like rent, groceries, bills, and transportation, and none of the participants quit their jobs. 

Tackling Poverty

Rather, they found that people felt less stress and anxiety and were able to use this financial freedom to improve their overall stability.

“Any appropriation from the State of Illinois to continue building on this vibrant movement will be a critical investment in our communities, our families, and our state, and we are excited that this bill starts the conversation,” Villivalam explained.

Inflationary pressures are one of the key reasons supporters are behind this bill. As former Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar testified, “Wages haven’t gone up enough to cover the rising costs of everyday goods like groceries, gas, and school lunches, and guaranteed income can help families afford what they need.”

Balancing Work Productivity and Social Welfare

While other guaranteed income programs have seen measurable success, opponents have criticized the bill amid worries that it could reduce work productivity and increase the migrant population of Illinois. Some argue that it’s insufficient to solve the statewide poverty issue, and many were critical of the fact that this bill would be taxpayer-funded.

When pressed about the prospective cost for this bill, Villivalam couldn’t answer. Instead, he said, “Those are conversations we would like to have with the members of the committee and our colleagues to see what would be appropriate to start this off at the state level.”

Fostering Household Stability and Economic Growth

Pawar responded to the criticisms, stating that “Giving people cash is one of the most potent tools for creating resilient households and communities.” 

She attested that it would also stimulate the local economy as “all of this money that goes into the pockets to stabilize households flows through local businesses. So you see some of this money back in sales taxes and other taxes.”

Although this bill has been discussed, it has yet to move out of the committee, where it could remain for the foreseeable future.

The post Illinois Contemplates Unconditional Cash Transfers for Residents first appeared on Swift Feed.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes.

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