Press Release

Today: Illinois Lawmakers Explore Rethinking Safety Net To Include Guaranteed Income

03. 27. 2024

Lawmakers held a Senate Committee hearing on a new bill which would appoint a state board to scope plans for a guaranteed income across Illinois

Chicago, IL – Today, Illinois lawmakers took a major step forward on exploring guaranteed income as a statewide solution to gaps in the social safety net. In a hearing held in the State Senate Committee on Health and Human Services hearing on SB 3462 (sponsored by State Senator Ram Villivalam), lawmakers heard testimony from policy experts and local guaranteed income pilot program beneficiaries on how to administer a guaranteed income to Illinoisans in a way that both solves for Illinois families and the state’s budget challenges. 

This hearing––the first major action by state officials on guaranteed income––comes after years of demonstrated success from guaranteed income in Illinois, with the state now featuring 4 successful pilot programs (including the Cook County Promise and the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot), and 9,000+ of the 50,000+ nation’s guaranteed income participants. If passed, the legislation under discussion today would create a state board, the Guaranteed Income Implementation Board, which would examine how to structure guaranteed income across Illinois to fill in gaps in the state’s current social safety net.

Economic Security Project, the national organization leading the charge for guaranteed income both in Illinois and nationwide, responded today to the news:

It’s time for Illinois to explore what a broad guaranteed income program could look like, and this bill represents a major step forward,” said Ameya Pawar, senior advisor at Economic Security Project. “By creating a state board to investigate how Illinois can modernize and rethink the social safety net to fill in the gaps left by traditional public benefits, we can replicate the tremendous success we’ve seen in existing pilot programs in Illinois and nationwide. Let’s be clear: people aren’t poor because they made poor choices; they are poor because our systems have failed them. Half a decade of policies that degraded our social safety net have left too many families  feeling real economic precarity. When you arm families with cash, it grants them the ability to escape cycles of poverty, to believe that something else is possible, and to flourish.” 

“As someone who has benefited from guaranteed income, I can say that guaranteed income has been a life-changing experience,” said Jaime Borda, an actor, delivery driver and Skokie resident who currently participates in the Cook County Promise guaranteed income program. “After my car was towed, guaranteed income gave me the ability to keep my car, and continue to use it for my job. Guaranteed income has given me the means to keep working, to save money in an emergency fund, and has improved my physical and mental health. I hope that legislators know that direct cash is a policy that could help thousands of other folks across Illinois just like me to be able to truly thrive.”