Lawsuit alleges St. Louis' guaranteed basic income is unconstitutional

Two taxpayers filed a lawsuit claiming provision violated Missouri Constitution.

Published: June 20, 2024 12:00am

(The Center Square) -

The City of St. Louis’ guaranteed basic income program violates its own Charter, the Missouri Constitution and must cease, according to a lawsuit.

Two taxpayers filed a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis, Comptroller Darlene Green, Treasurer Adam Layne and Mayor Tishaura Jones in St. Louis Circuit Court seeking a “Writ of Mandamus” to stop the program.

The taxpayers, Greg Tumlin and Fred Hale, are represented by attorney Kimberly Mathis and assisted by the Holy Joe Society, a nonprofit organization supporting legal actions on behalf of organizations or individuals adversely impacted by government and public policy.

“The Missouri Constitution and the City Charter strictly prohibit giving away public money to private persons, which is exactly what Guaranteed Basic Income law does,” according to a media release from the organization.

Board Bill 116, signed into law by Jones in 2022, gave the treasurer the authority to negotiate and execute logistics contracts and gave the comptroller permission to distribute $4 million in cash. Recipients were limited to those with household incomes not exceeding 170% of the federal poverty level. They also were required to be parents or legal guardians of youth under 18 who are city residents and enrolled in St. Louis Public Schools.

Approximately 440 households meeting those requirements will receive $500 per month for 18 months.

The money is a portion of the $52.2 million appropriation from the city’s federal American Rescue Plan Act funding of $498 million.

The lawsuit asks the court to direct the city and officials administering the program to immediately stop making all payments. The court ordered the city and its officials to respond to the lawsuit by June 28.

Last week, the city announced a revolving loan fund of $315,479 available to help low-income city residents pay personal property taxes, automobile license tag fees and auto insurance premiums. A media release from Jones’ office stated the money is “intended to increase traffic safety by decreasing the number of expired temporary tags and uninsured motorists in St. Louis.” It attributed the problem to “state legislators’ slow action on allowing sales tax to be paid easily at the point of sale for motor vehicles, which motorists in every other state can do.”

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