Feasibility and Impact of Guaranteed Income in Maine

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Executive Summary

  • A great need exists in Maine for the kind of financial support guaranteed income could provide: reliable and periodic payments throughout the year, helping to smooth over recipients’ income volatility and better budget their finances.
  • Evidence shows guaranteed income pilots benefit financial, mental, and physical health and advance racial and gender equity. Evidence does not show guaranteed income provides a disincentive to work.
  • Maine has already implemented programs like guaranteed income — the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and pandemic stimulus checks — that helped Mainers afford necessities and reduced poverty.
  • There are different shapes guaranteed income programs can take regarding the scale, populations served, benefit amounts, and lengths of time.
  • Offering participants optional wrap-around services — such as financial literacy courses, assistance in housing or job searches or guidance in accessing other safety net programs — is a best practice for guaranteed income programs to optimize benefits and improve economic security.
  • As guaranteed income provides resources to families who may already be receiving public benefits, it is important to protect eligibility for safety net programs.
  • Pilot programs typically draw on a mix of public and private funding. While private funding saves taxpayer dollars for other investments and protects the eligibility of participants for safety net benefits, it prohibits the ability to scale up and serve more people. Meeting the needs of a statewide population would require progressive sources of public revenue — for instance, asking people with wealth to pay more in taxes — and changes in law to exclude guaranteed income from safety net eligibility.
  • A publicly funded guaranteed income program would need to be housed in a state agency. Several Maine agencies are potential candidates.
  • Building off an existing program that distributes financial resources to households — for example, through refundable tax credits, direct payments in checks or debit cards, or grants — could present fewer administrative burdens.

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