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Three state lawmakers from Philadelphia said they plan to introduce legislation directing a state agency to study and report back on the efficacy of a universal basic income program in Pennsylvania.
Democratic state Reps. Ben Waxman, Morgan Cephas and Chris Rabb, all signed onto a co-sponsorship memo seeking legislative support for the bill, which would require the Department of Human Services to conduct the study, which would also help state officials determine which municipalities would be best suited to implement a UBI program.
In 2020, Democratic state Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler, of Philadelphia, and U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, D-12th District, then a member of the state House from Allegheny County, also sought support for a similar proposal.
UBI has also been a topic on the presidential campaign trail, with then-Democratic White House hopeful Andrew Yang endorsing the concept during his 2020 run for the Oval Office.
The concept of UBI saw increased attention during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, which supporters have cited as an example of the need to explore UBI further.
In 2021, the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration, a mayor-led guaranteed income demonstration, studied the effects of UBI, providing 125 participants with $500 monthly for two years.
The SEED study found that recipients were healthier, more financially stable, and more likely to set goals and take risks as a result of the UBI program, but noted that the “exorbitant” costs of necessities, such as child care, medical care, and housing, continue to be sources of hardship and stress for many.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a comprehensive safety net reform,”
\the study concluded.
The study, the lawmakers wrote, would be a “vital first step in understanding how a universal basic income pilot program could be implemented in Pennsylvania.”