Arizona Republicans vote to ban guaranteed basic income programs

A Republican-led measure that would
prohibit the state from enacting any guaranteed basic income programs
received unanimous approval from Arizona House Republicans Thursday. 

House Bill 2375,
sponsored by Rep. Lupe Diaz, R-Benson, would bar municipalities from
adopting “any ordinance, order or rule that has the purpose or effect of
making payments to persons as part of a guaranteed income program.”

Guaranteed basic income, also known as universal basic income, programs have been gaining traction as a way to combat poverty.
The programs are generally aimed at people making poverty-level wages
who then receive between $500 to $1,000 a month from the government,
depending on the program. Some states that have enacted such programs
have seen success in improving the well-being of those who receive the funds. 

During a House Government Committee
hearing last week, the bill’s sponsor likened the programs to socialism,
a claim that has been levied by lawmakers in other states looking to
enact similar preemptive bans. Diaz compared the programs to “participation awards” and specifically singled out a pilot program by the city of Phoenix.

Phoenix initiated a pilot program in
2022 that sought to give $1,000 a month to 1,000 families for a 12 month
period. To qualify, participants would have to be low-income families
who make 80% of the area median income or less, with children, and would
be chosen via a lottery system. The city used federal COVID relief
money to create the pilot. 

“I’m concerned by this one,” Rep.
Sarah Liguori, D-Phoenix, said, adding that the program could be a
“lifeline” for workers in the future. Liguori referenced the possible impact of AI
as some economists have suggested that AI could impact roughly 300
million full-time jobs. “I don’t know why we are tying our hands.” 

The Phoenix lawmaker also compared UBI programs to the Republican led effort that expanded vouchers to all Arizona residents. 

The bill passed out of the House along party lines on a 31-28 vote and will head to the Senate next for consideration.