Councilmember McDuffie Convenes Hearing on Child Wealth Building Act, Guaranteed Basic Income and Tax Policy

Hearing an important step to advance wealth equity legislation and investigate revenue streams in the context of a post COVID-19 recession

For Release: Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Contact: Malcom Fox, 202-227-1701, mfox@dccouncil.us

Washington, DC – Today, Ward 5 Councilmember and Chair of the Committee on Business and Economic Development Kenyan McDuffie convened a hearing to further develop wealth his Child Wealth Building Act, discuss the benefits of a guaranteed basic income pilot program, explore tax policy proposals and understand the long term impacts of the COVID-19 induced recession on our economic landscape. The four panels featured wealth equity and tax policy experts to help design these proposals.

“We must pass bold and transformational policies that chip away at the District’s stark racial inequities,” said Councilmember McDuffie. “The Child Wealth Building Act and a guaranteed basic income program represent economic justice for Washingtonians who were struggling before the recession. We must also explore the District’s approaches to generate revenue given the significant impact of COVID restrictions hospitality, sales and commercial property taxes moving forward.”

The Child Wealth Building Act would provide a District government-sponsored trust fund for babies born in the District into a household whose income does not exceed 500% of the Federal Poverty Level. Enrollment would be automatic, and each eligible child would receive an initial deposit of $1,000 followed by annual supplemental payments up to $2,000 depending on household income. Upon turning 18, the child may withdraw the funds for specified purposes including education, business ownership, business investment, property ownership, and retirement investments.

In his FY22 budget letter to the Mayor, Councilmember McDuffie requested $100M to fund a DC guaranteed basic income pilot program. Across the country, various guaranteed income pilots have been linked to higher employment, better health outcomes, higher educational performance, less stress and more family stability. A guaranteed basic income pilot program would especially help low-income residents who have been disproportionately impacted by this recession.

The COVID-19 recession has significantly reduced tax revenues from the hospitality and service industries and is projected to impact commercial property taxes. As the office and downtown markets continue to adjust to the new realities of work in a post-COVID world, the OCFO projects longterm reductions in property and sales taxes. We must rethink our approaches to investing in our workers and residents to ensure the long term financial health of the District.