Supporters believe it’s necessary and critics think it’s an egregious abuse of public dollars. Whichever side you may fall on, the Austin City Council is expected to hear some heated debate on Thursday when it votes on a new Universal Basic Income pilot program.
If approved, 85 families or individuals would collect a $1000 monthly income for a year, courtesy of the taxpayers of the City of Austin.
“This is about trying to ensure that families are able to meet basic necessities, as well as to ensure that we are keeping Austinites in their home.” said Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes. “This program is for our most vulnerable — families who have been through extreme hardships where $1000 a month makes a huge difference.”
Austin Mayor Steve Adler has already thrown his full support toward the idea, saying at a recent council meeting that he has faith it will work due to the local relief dollars that were doled out during the height of the pandemic.
“Because we were trying to get it out so quickly, we weren’t set up to really evaluate it, to really learn lessons from it to see how it would work as an ongoing project,” Adler said.
The plan is to pull nearly $1.2-million from the General Fund, which is kept full by the citizens of Austin who pay their local taxes. That remains a major sticking point for critics who feel the proposal is another big leap toward socialism, and one that should not fall on the shoulders of the taxpayers to carry.
If the city feels the program has been a success at the conclusion of the 12-month pilot program, efforts will then be made to make Universal Basic Income a permanent fixture in Austin while also expanding the eligibility to wider swaths of the population.
It is expected to pass with near-unanimous support on Thursday.