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St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter joins coalition of mayors to look into guaranteed income

Guaranteed income would mean recurring cash payments to residents, with no strings attached.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is among the 11 mayors who have joined a coalition that will explore providing a guaranteed income for residents. 

The coalition, which launched Monday, is called Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. It believes that by providing direct, recurring cash payments to people, it will help build a resilient community and help address racial and gender equity issues.

This comes as many American adults struggle financially. The Federal Reserve found last year that nearly 40 percent of adults in the U.S. can't cover a $400 emergency with cash, savings or credit cards that can be paid off quickly. 

"Wealth and income inequality, which have long plagued our country, continue to grow. Even prior to the pandemic, people who were working two and three jobs still couldn’t afford basic necessities," the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income website states

"COVID-19 has only further exposed the economic fragility of most American households, and has disproportionately impacted Black and Brown people.

"This is our New Deal moment: everyone deserves an income floor through a guaranteed income," the website adds.

In an opinion piece published by Time, the mayors said the coalition "will invest in additional guaranteed-income pilots and advocate for state and federal cash-based policies."

It's unclear what programs will look like or when they'll start. 

“In a country that works for all of us, no one who works full time should be stuck in poverty or worried about making ends meet," Mayor Carter said in a statement to BMTN. "It’s time to reimagine and rethink our economic structures by piloting a guaranteed income.”

He also shared this tweet on Monday: 

Mayors for a Guaranteed Income was founded by Mayor Michael Tubbs, who serves the city of Stockton, California. He's previously launched a guaranteed income program in which he's been giving 125 residents $500 a month since February 2019, the website says.

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“It’s taken COVID-19 where direct cash payments are part of the solution offered by the federal government, so I just thought the time was right to organize mayors around the idea because we live in a time of pandemics,” Tubbs told Forbes. “If it’s not COVID-19 this year, it’ll be an earthquake next year, a hurricane the year after or fire. Folks need to build economic resilience in our cities now.”

As of Monday, the coalition features a Black majority with officials from 11 cities. The cities are St. Paul, Stockton, California; Newark, New Jersey; Columbia, South Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Compton, California; Los Angeles, California; Jackson, Mississippi; Shreveport, Louisiana; Oakland, California; and Tacoma, Washington. 

Other mayors are invited to join the coalition.

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