Universal Basic Income: State Sen. Cooney proposes cash relief pilot program for Rochester

State Legislature

NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — New York State Sen. Jeremy Cooney (D-56) introduced legislation that would pilot a cash relief program in Monroe County.

The legislation was announced Tuesday after Cooney endorsed New York City mayoral candidate, and Universal Basic Income advocate, Andrew Yang.

According to officials from Cooney’s office, the pilot would include 1,000 low income households with children, chosen randomly from applicants resident in Monroe County. Those selected would then be provided $500 per month for the duration of the two-year pilot program.

According to Cooney, the bill would require data gathering and analysis on how the additional income impacted health, stress levels, and mental health of participants in the program.

Known formally as Senate Bill S6361, is still in the committee phase and is yet to be scheduled for a discussion in the New York State Senate.

“The families of Monroe County need bold and innovative solutions to address our high childhood poverty rate,” Cooney said in a press release. “This legislation is the starting point for us to test how cash relief can relieve some of the daily pressure of experiencing poverty. Through my early work with Andrew Yang, I was able to create a plan for how we can launch this program in New York State and impact the lives of families in my hometown that I am honored to serve.”

“Senator Cooney and I first connected over our shared belief in the power of cash relief to lift millions out of poverty across the country,” Yang said in a press release. “His legislation is an example for how we can implement cash relief on a larger scale. I’m committed to launching the nation’s largest basic income program in New York City. I’m thrilled to count Senator Cooney not just as a partner in this vision, but as a friend who is committed to the hard work of eliminating poverty.”

Also Wednesday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced that she joined Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a group of mayors “advocating for a guaranteed income to ensure that all Americans are provided with a basic level of income.”

City officials say this topic of guaranteed income will be explored at Tuesday’s meeting with the Reparations and Universal Basic Income Exploratory Committee. That committee was formed in April to explore the implementation of a reparations and UBI program for Rochester.

“I’m proud to join with my fellow mayors and happy to see support coming from Senator Cooney to provide our families with access to a guaranteed income,” said Mayor Warren in a Wednesday press release. “We can now move forward quickly on the commitment we made as members of Mayor’s for a Guaranteed Income. I am looking forward to the first public meeting of our Reparations and Universal Basic Income Exploratory Committee next week so we can begin talking about how to make this a reality in Rochester.”

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