Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

(Arizona Mirror) A Republican-led measure that would prohibit the state from enacting any guaranteed basic income programs received unanimous approval from Arizona House Republicans Thursday.

House Bill 2375, sponsored by Rep. Lupe Diaz, R-Benson, would bar municipalities from adopting “any ordinance, order or rule that has the purpose or effect of making payments to persons as part of a guaranteed income program.”

Guaranteed basic income, also known as universal basic income, programs have been gaining traction as a way to combat poverty. The programs are generally aimed at people making poverty-level wages who then receive between $500 to $1,000 a month from the government, depending on the program. Some states that have enacted such programs have seen success in improving the well-being of those who receive the funds.

During a House Government Committee hearing last week, the bill’s sponsor likened the programs to socialism, a claim that has been levied by lawmakers in other states looking to enact similar preemptive bans. Diaz compared the programs to “participation awards” and specifically singled out a pilot program by the city of Phoenix.

Phoenix initiated a pilot program in 2022 that sought to give $1,000 a month to 1,000 families for a 12 month period. To qualify, participants would have to be low-income families who make 80% of the area median income or less, with children, and would be chosen via a lottery system. The city used federal COVID relief money to create the pilot.

“I’m concerned by this one,” Rep. Sarah Liguori, D-Phoenix, said, adding that the program could be a “lifeline” for workers in the future. Liguori referenced the possible impact of AI as some economists have suggested that AI could impact roughly 300 million full-time jobs. “I don’t know why we are tying our hands.”

The Phoenix lawmaker also compared UBI programs to the Republican led effort that expanded vouchers to all Arizona residents.

The bill passed out of the House along party lines on a 31-28 vote and will head to the Senate next for consideration.