Summary: This video from the Participatory Budgeting Project provides an overview of participatory budgeting (PB). In short, it is a "a different way to engage with government and decide how tax dollars are spent" by engaging all citizens in the budgeting process. The video outlines the steps of participatory budgeting, including (1) brainstorming ideas for projects that citizens would like to see in their neighborhoods; (2) having volunteers develop project proposals and narrow down the proposals; (3), presenting projects to the public for a vote; and (4) funding the projects with the most votes. The projects are then implemented and the process starts again the next year and budgeting cycle. The video draws upon testimonies from people who participate in the New York City PB process (the largest PB system in the US), noting the project's success. It further adds that the process started in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989 and has spread throughout 1,500+ communities around the world. Porto Alegre is the most famous example, and has been studied widely. For example, it is featured in Erik Olin Wright's Real Utopias project (see chapter 6, pages 155-167). Wright describes the project and its impacts on Porto Alegre, including a shift toward greater spending on poor communities, high and sustained levels of participation, strengthening of civil society, the near elimination of corruption, and greater tax compliance.
Submitted By: Paul Dean