Legislator proposes a pilot program for direct cash payments


New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang’s cash aid proposal is attracting attention in upstate New York.

One thousand low-income Monroe County households would receive monthly payments of $500 under a two-year pilot program proposed by Democratic Senator Jeremy Cooney.

Cooney endorsed Yang’s candidacy for the Democratic mayoral nomination. The bill backed by Cooney, a first-year lawmaker, would help create data and analytics to potentially expand direct relief payments to eligible families, he said. The review would potentially include the effect of income on the health, stress levels and mental health of participating families.

The research would also examine whether the payments help to mitigate the impact of poverty.

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

Cooney endorsed Yang this week. The pair became friends after Yang’s Humanity Forward organization endorsed Cooney’s campaign for state senate in 2020. Cooney is the first Asian American to be elected to state office in the upstate New York and the only Senate candidate supported by Yang last year.

“Senator Cooney and I first talked about our shared belief in the power of cash relief to lift millions out of poverty across the country,” Yang said. “His legislation is an example of how we can implement cash relief on a larger scale. I am committed to launching the nation’s largest basic income program in New York. I am thrilled to count the Senator Cooney not just as a partner in that vision, but as a friend who is committed to working hard to end poverty.


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