Universal Basic Income is a policy in which the government gives its residents a certain amount of money to spend as they wish. The amount of money each person and family receives is tied to the cost of living in that jurisdiction.
The idea garnered international attention this week after voters in Switzerland overwhelmingly rejected a national proposal for a basic income. Ontario is rolling out a pilot program soon to test the policy, and countries such as Finland are considering the idea. Economists and columnists in the United States have been debating the idea in prominent forums in recent months.
The idea is still a quixotic one in the District, but Grosso said he thinks it’s important for the nation’s capital to examine the minimum amount of money it takes to live in an increasingly expensive city and what it would take to implement a guaranteed basic income.
Grosso said he wants to see a combination of expanded subsidies for certain living expenses, such as transportation, and untethered income that people could spend as they wish.
“This is a complex idea that just hasn’t been studied here before,” he said.
Grosso voted in favor of the $15 minimum wage Tuesday, but says that a person working full time at that amount would only earn about $2,400 a month, which still isn’t enough.
“I think we should look at all the options and stop talking about things that are band-aid fixes, and really talk about what it takes to live in the District of Columbia,” he said. “The reality is that continuing to increase the minimum wage is not enough for people to live on here. ”
“This would be a way we could get away from the old welfare system and look at a system that would subsidize people up to a standard of living.”