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Arizona Republicans Want To Stop ‘Unearned’ Guaranteed Basic Income Programs

Republican legislators in Arizona are spearheading an effort to ban basic income programs, labeling the payments as “unearned” and potentially harmful to established social welfare systems.

The proposed bill, known as House Bill 2375, seeks to prohibit municipalities and counties from implementing guaranteed basic income initiatives, sparking a contentious debate over the role of government assistance.

Defining Guaranteed Basic Income Programs

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The bill targets programs that offer residents unconditional cash payments, allowing them to utilize the funds as they see fit.

Several Cities Have Started Such Programs

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These initiatives, often referred to as guaranteed basic income programs, have gained traction in various cities and counties, such as Denver and California, across the United States, aiming to address economic disparities and provide financial stability to low-income individuals and families.

Rationale Behind Basic Income Programs

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The rise of basic income programs stems from concerns surrounding housing affordability, homelessness, pandemic-induced economic challenges, and fears of job displacement due to automation.

A Safety Net

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Advocates argue that these initiatives offer a safety net for vulnerable populations and promote economic resilience in times of crisis.

Distinguishing Guaranteed Basic Income from Universal Basic Income

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While similar in principle, guaranteed basic income programs differ from the universal basic income proposed by figures like Andrew Yang, who ran for President in 2016.

Specific Demographic Groups

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Unlike a universal approach that provides payments to all citizens, guaranteed basic income programs target specific demographic groups, such as low-income households, for assistance.

Political Controversy Surrounding Basic Income

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Despite their localized nature, guaranteed basic income programs have become embroiled in political debates, with critics likening them to socialism.

Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Lupe Diaz, view these initiatives as government overreach and argue that they undermine individual responsibility.

2022 Phoenix Program

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Speaking about the bill on Wednesday, Diaz singled out a 2022 Phoenix area program that used federal COVID-19 funds to provide $1,000 monthly for a year to 1,000 low-income families.

$12 Million in Covid Relief Spent on Program

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The program was funded in part by $12 million in federal relief funds that the Phoenix City Council used, as reported by the Phoenix New Times.

According to the report, families had to make less than 80% of the $63,200 median income in the area in order to be eligible.

Challenges to Existing Social Safety Nets

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Opponents of basic income programs, such as Rep. John Gillette, express concerns that such initiatives may weaken established social welfare systems by diverting resources away from traditional assistance programs.

They argue that these programs risk exacerbating inequality rather than alleviating it.

Rob One to Pay Another

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Another Republican who supports the bill, Arizona state representative John Gillette, claimed that guaranteed basic income programs “rob one to pay the other” and could harm social safety nets that are already in place.

National Landscape of Opposition

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Arizona is not alone in its efforts to curtail basic income programs.

Similar bills have been proposed in states like Iowa and South Dakota, reflecting a broader trend of Republican pushback against what they perceive as socialist policies.

Criticism of COVID-19 Relief Fund Allocation

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The debate over basic income programs has been amplified by their utilization of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Programs like the one in Phoenix, Arizona, have drawn scrutiny from Republicans who question the constitutionality and fiscal responsibility of using pandemic aid for long-term income support.

Legal Challenges and Legislative Action

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In Texas, the constitutionality of a guaranteed basic income program in Harris County is being deliberated by the state attorney general following a legal challenge.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Arizona are poised to further debate the proposed ban on basic income payments as the bill progresses through the legislative process.

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