Cash for a new pilot program in Madison is rolling in, as the City of Madison now has nearly a million dollars to go toward its guaranteed income pilot program.
Today, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway announced that $300,000 in donations community partners had brought funding for the pilot up from $600,000 to $900,000.
Local donors include UW Health, CUNA Mutual Group, American Family Insurance and the Alliant Energy Foundation.
Rhodes Conway says the program is similar to, but not exactly like, universal basic income — in which everyone receives a set amount of money on a regular schedule. Under Madison’s Guaranteed Income program, payments will go to specific, income-constrained groups.
Speaking with WORT today, Rhodes-Conway said the project is part of a larger effort to push the federal government to establish a nationwide guaranteed income program.
“We’re really trying to put together the data that illustrates why this is a positive thing for our communities,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense for each individual city to run a guaranteed long-term income program, but it does make sense for the federal government to do that.”
Madison has already received $600,000 from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI) to support a guaranteed income program. MGI includes 44 mayors across the country, including Rhodes-Conway, and represents just south of 19 million Americans.
Last year, the organization received a $15 million dollar donation from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. With that backing, seven cities are currently running pilots, and 14 more — Madison included — are in the planning phases for a Guaranteed Income Pilot.
Exact details on Madison’s program, including a roll-out date, are still forthcoming. But it’ll likely function similarly to other municipal guaranteed income programs — which typically include cohorts of people who each receive a few hundred dollars every month.
Rhodes-Conway says Madison’s version will be similar to Stockton, California’s program — which covers 125 people for two years.
Said Rhodes-Conway: “It’s my goal for us to be able to enroll 100 families in the portion of the program that would receive funds, and to enroll an additional 100-200 families as control families in the program.”
In a press release last December, Mayor Rhodes-Conway wrote that the city was researching ways to distribute the funds without interfering with public benefits, like Section 8 Vouchers, BadgerCare or SNAP. And, in February, the Common Council approved a Guaranteed Income Task Force to develop a roll-out plan.
Since it’s in the development phase, Madison’s Guaranteed Basic Income program is not currently enrolling participants.
Photo by Brian Standing for WORT-FM.