One week from today, new federal stimulus checks are set to go out as direct deposits. They’re the latest installment of the child tax credit payments, which give parents an extra few hundred dollars each month. But as we’ve detailed in numerous posts now, stimulus payments aren’t only emanating from the federal level. Different states and localities around the US have been weighing what they can do along these same lines — and issuing checks of their own.
The state of California, to cite just one example, has been sending out Golden State Stimulus II checks for $600 to eligible households. Recipients must earn between $30,000 to $75,000 to get the checks, and households with children can get an extra $500. Meanwhile, one US city is considering a more radical move — a stimulus check program offering some families $500 payments. For the next three years.
Idea: $500 monthly stimulus checks?
Here’s what’s going on. The city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been looking at different options for how to spend more than $24 million in federal stimulus funds from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan law passed earlier this year. And one option under consideration is a universal basic income program.
This is how it would work. The city would pick 100 Ann Arbor families based on financial need. And it would offer them $500 every month for three years. Also, the city would work in tandem with researchers to study the program’s impact on recipients as well as the community.
City officials are looking to model this off of a similar pilot program out of Stockton, California. That program offered $500 checks to 125 mostly low-income area residents. And according to a Los Angeles Times report about the effort, recipients were found to be, because of this program, “healthier, showing less depression and anxiety and enhanced well-being.” Even more important, the recipients “had greater success finding full-time work or upgrading their employment.
“That turns on its head the conventional conservative argument that such programs will disincentivize the search for work and turn recipients into layabouts.”
This is not a done deal yet, though. According to one local news account, other options Ann Arbor is looking at for how to spend its COVID funds include spending $1 million on social service programs, $3.5 million on buying properties to support affordable housing, $2 million on community policing, $7 million for solar on city facilities, and $4 billion for a new bikeway Downtown, among other ideas.
The city will give the public a chance to offer input in all this. The final decision will ultimately come from the local city council. The possibility of this new stimulus check program, though, offers yet another reminder of how popular this benefit remains. Not that it should have been in any doubt, of course.