Jul 29, 2022 - News

Guaranteed income project stirs a Des Moines debate

Illustration of a bill made up of different bill denominations. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Des Moines City Councilperson Joe Gatto was the only no vote last week against a guaranteed monthly income pilot project.

Catch up fast: Des Moines allocated $500,000 to it.

  • 110 recipients will get up to $500 a month for two years and can spend it however they want.

Driving the news: There was no discussion at last week's meeting, but Gatto voiced his opposition during a nearly three-hour workshop in June where the idea was first presented to the council.

  • "That's why you see a sign every single place you go that says 'Help wanted,' because we keep providing assistance so people don't have to work," he said.
  • Council members Connie Boesen and Josh Mandelbaum, reminded him that it's a study into whether guaranteed income can better lift families out of poverty.

Of note: DSM's allocation was initially proposed to be as much as $1.5 million.

Your thoughts: Like in the results of this Pew Research survey, our reader response was divided.

  • "I think having a study first to be able to prove its impact is a wise move, as this program could do some incredible good in our community," — Mia Buch, DSM
  • "I realize the city of Des Moines is flush right now with federal dollars, but if downtown office property values crater stuff like this will not look great," — Greg Ellingson, DSM
  • "The animal world, of which we are a part, rewards success and weeds out the weak… Government needs to step out of social engineering and let society take care of its own," — Gerry Shepherd, Santa Barbara, Calif.

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