Over the past six years, I’ve asked my constituents–the residents of the 49th Ward–to decide how to spend $1 million in tax dollars through a process known as Participatory Budgeting, or “PB49.”
Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making in which ordinary residents decide how to allocate part of a municipal budget. In Chicago, each Alderman is given a pot of money, known as “menu money,” earmarked for ward infrastructure improvements. Participatory budgeting turns over a portion of this budget to community residents, who then decide spending priorities.
The 49th Ward is the first political jurisdiction in the nation to adopt such an approach to public spending, and it’s been so well-received that I have pledged to make it a permanent fixture in the ward. Under PB49, all 49th Ward residents are eligible to vote directly on of infrastructure projects that are funded in our community.
Word of our success has spread. This year, eight other Chicago aldermen plan to implement participatory budgeting to decide how to spend their aldermanic infrastructure “menu money,” and other cities in the U.S., including New York City and Vallejo, California, are emulating our model.
To learn more about participatory budgeting and its implementation worldwide, visit the website of the Participatory Budgeting Project.
In this section of my website, you find results of past PB49 voting, the status and implementation progress of current projects, and a history of PB in the ward.