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Guaranteed income ban legislation on Reynolds’ desk

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(The Center Square) – A bill that bans guaranteed income programs cleared its final hurdle and is now in the hands of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The bill prevents cities and counties from providing guaranteed income. It defines guaranteed income programs as those that “provide individuals with unearned cash payments without spending restrictions” and does not apply to programs that require individuals to perform work or attend training, said Sen. Scott Webster, R-Bettendorf.

The Iowa Senate passed House File 2319 by a 35-13 vote. The House approved it by a 55-43 vote last month.

A basic income pilot program currently underway in Des Moines provides $500 in monthly payments to 100 people. It is set to last two years to “study the impacts of a sustained monthly income.”

The bill states any programs already in operation may remain in effect until January 2025 or until completion of its pilot program, whichever is first.

The bill drew backlash from several Democratic lawmakers who spoke in opposition to it Tuesday.

“When you choose a bill to attack an organization who’s going to help people – and it isn’t coming out of the Iowa Senate’s pocket, it’s not coming out of the General Fund – what are you doing? What are we doing here?” said Sen. Bill Dotzler, D-Black Hawk. “I just don’t get it. I’ve been through a lot of sessions, and I haven’t quite seen one like this.”

Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Polk, likened the basic income payments to farm subsidies and said some people in the room had received millions in subsidies over the years.

“What’s the difference?” said Bisignano, who argued passing the bill would be the state meddling in local government affairs.

“I’m sorry if I offend people in this room by talking the truth. Four hundred and sixty-five billion dollars a year in farm subsidy. And this is $500 a month. I don’t even know how to argue this. One is it’s none of our business. This is local government,” Bisignano said.

Webster said an estimated $865,000 in tax dollars is being used to fund the Des Moines-based pilot program.

“I believe that we have the ultimate concern of the taxpayer at hand. Not only that but the mission statement for this particular program was to elevate this program to a state, more local, and federal level,” said Webster.

He added that studies have been done elsewhere, including in Canada, where basic income payments were deemed insufficient for solving poverty.

“In the last 50 years, $22 trillion dollars was spent on poverty and it hasn’t changed a bit. Today we debate yet another program that robs our middle class of their hard-earned money,” Webster said.

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