In June 2020, at the invitation of Stockton, CA Mayor Michael Tubbs, I became one of the first 15 mayors to join Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a coalition of mayors from cities across the United States focused on ending poverty by advocating for guaranteed income policies.

A guaranteed income is a monthly, cash payment given directly to individuals. It is unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements. A guaranteed income is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and can be a tool for racial and gender equity.

This week the group announced that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made a $15 million contribution to support the launch, expansion, and proliferation of guaranteed income pilot programs for participating cities across the country. Madison will receive $500,000 grant to design a pilot program, and we hope to build on that amount with other charitable contributions.

The goals of this donation are to (1) invest in local residents, providing them with dignity-based financial support to empower them to make the best choices for their growth and stability and (2) to create a base of information and data on the efficacy of these pilots from across the country, which can be translated into advocacy.

The key here is to develop the data to make the case for a national guaranteed income program. The concept has been steadily gaining traction in recent years. Senator Kamala Harris was one of many in Congress to propose a guaranteed income bill, that would support families with $6,000 annual payments. When COVID-19 hit and after Congress approved sending $1,200 checks to qualifying Americans through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the idea is gaining a broader base of supporters that believe that direct cash aid payments the best way to help struggling families, especially those who many not qualify for traditional unemployment.

Mayor Rhodes-Conway

City staff is currently exploring how to design and implement a pilot that addresses affordable housing. Staff is researching the best ways to create a program that works with City residents experiencing housing insecurity and designing a program that does not interfere with any public benefits such as Public Housing support and Section 8 vouchers, Medicaid benefits e.g. BadgerCare, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits

Additionally, staff is exploring the creation of an advisory committee comprised of key stakeholders and organizations to assist and guide the work of a guaranteed income pilot

For more information on Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, please visit their website:

MGI – Home:


MGI – Media Coverage:

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