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Newark, NJ Aims To Become First Big City To Roll Out Universal Basic Income

Newark could become the first major American city to roll out a guaranteed income in a bid to slash the city’s sky-high poverty rates.

The city’s mayor, Ras Baraka, is setting up a task force to study if such a program would be possible as one way to tackle the city’s entrenched poverty.

Baraka provided no other details in his State of the City address, which was delivered last week.

“The problems we have belong to all of us, not just a few of us, so the solutions must be collective and not individual,” Baraka said.

“We believe in universal basic income, especially in a time where studies have shown that families that have a crisis of just $400 in a month may experience a setback that may be difficult, even impossible, to recover from.”

The Star-Ledger first reported his remarks.

More than a quarter of Newark residents — 27.8 percent — live below the poverty line, figures from the Census Bureau show.

The typical Newark household makes just $35,000 a year, roughly half of the $75,000 average for the entire New York City metro area.

Basic income programs typically provide assistance to individuals regardless of employment status — pitched by some economists as a 21st-century update to classic welfare programs that have been dramatically reduced in recent decades.

High-profile liberals, like freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have embraced the notion as a way to help working-class Americans amid the economic disruptions caused by the growing automation of the economy.

Conservatives quickly derided the idea as a potential big-government boondoggle, pointing out that a Scandinavian country, Finland, quickly abandoned its basic income experiment.

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