YEO Policy Books 2015 Policy Book - Page 19

Participatory Budgeting Origin: Participatory Budgeting Chicago (PBC) Steering Committee Bill Name/Number: “PB49” by Chicago Alderman Joe Moore, 49th Ward Link: Click here Summary: Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. Chicago’s participatory budgeting process began in 2009 with Alderman Joe Moore of the 49th Ward and has now expanded to a public-private and multi-ward project. Talking Points & Important Information: • While disenfranchisement is still a major issue, the inequitable distribution of government funding and services contributes to the overall malaise of the American public. Faced with the seemingly insurmountable power of big money and special interests, residents and citizens are throwing more momentum behind participatory budgeting, a grassroots democratic process wherein community members directly decide how to spend part or all of a public budget. • There are significant variations in the institutional design and models of participatory budgeting (PB) that have spread nationally and internationally. The most inclusive models give residents decision-making power over the entire municipal budget and are based on neighborhood assemblies where all residents can participate and vote on priorities. These types of models produce the best poverty reduction, declines in corruption, and extensive participation from local residents. Smaller scale processes, which are most common in the United States and is the model utilized in Chicago, give citizens decision-making power over a smaller portion of the budget or some of an individual councilmember’s discretionary funds. • Chicago’s PB process is based on individual councilmembers having unilaterally decided to engage their constituents by using PB to spend their discretionary budgets. Notably, since officials are allocating individual discretionary capital budgets, no new legislation is required. Instead of individual councilmembers deciding how to spend the $1.3 million in “menu money” allocated annually to each of Chicago’s 50 council members for capital improvements, participating councilmembers open up a public process to determine how they spend $1M of the allotment. The remaining $300,000 is locked away for emergencies and cost overruns. • In 2015, there are eight participating Wards and at least 20 private and community-based organizations working in partnership on the multi-ward PB Chicago Steering Committee. • In 2012, Vallejo, California became the first city in the country to establish city-wide participatory budgeting. For more information on Vallejo’s PB program, click here. 2015 POLICY BOOK LOCAL LEVEL PAGE 19