The next chapter in the ongoing story of 2021 as the year of the stimulus payment is already unfolding. But this one will be a little different than the narrative that the federal government has gotten people acclimated to for more than a year now. Going forward? Location is actually going to be a determinant of the size and frequency of people’s next stimulus payment. That’s if they even get one at all.
With the federal government’s stimulus check efforts arguably starting to wind down, states and even local governments are picking up the baton. The state of California, to cite just one example, has been sending out Golden State Stimulus II checks for $600 to eligible households. There’s also a US city considering one of the most radical efforts along these lines we’ve seen so far. It’s a stimulus check program that would offer some families $500 monthly payments — for the next three years.
One idea: $500/month stimulus payment
The city is Ann Arbor, Michigan. And it’s actually been considering a number of different options for how to spend more than $24 million in federal stimulus funds from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan law passed earlier this year. One option under consideration? A universal basic income program, which would involve 100 Ann Arbor families based on financial need.
The program would give those families $500 every month for three years. Also, the city would work in tandem with researchers to study the program’s impact on recipients and the city.
Chicago is also considering a similar effort. Ann Arbor’s apparent model for this, however, is a similar initiative out of Stockton, California. There, officials gave out $500 checks to 125 mostly low-income area residents. And according to a Los Angeles Times report about the effort, recipients were found to be, because of this program, “healthier, showing less depression and anxiety and enhanced well-being.”
‘The conventional conservative argument’
These efforts will be very interesting to watch for multiple reasons. One of which is the way they venture into the realm of deeply held political beliefs. Those include the idea that giving people money potentially disincentivizes them to work.
About the Stockton effort, the LAT notes that recipients of the money there “had greater success finding full-time work or upgrading their employment. That turns on its head the conventional conservative argument that such programs will disincentivize the search for work and turn recipients into layabouts.”
Still, this program in Ann Arbor might not end up coming to fruition. According to one local news account, other options the city is looking at for how to spend its COVID funds include spending $1 million on social service programs. Additional possibilities include $3.5 million on buying properties to support affordable housing, and $2 million spent on community policing. Money could also go toward solar on city facilities, as well as a new bikeway Downtown. The city will give the public a chance to offer input in all this. And the final decision will ultimately come from the local city council.