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Participatory Budgeting: Another step forward for a Participatory Democracy

The Participatory Democracy Cultural Initiative, Inc. (PDCI) proclaims its support for the development of Participatory Budget systems as an additional tool for citizen participation in shaping their own destinies. Today, this participatory exercise in economics has spread to more than 7,000 cities worldwide and has been used to decide budgets for states, counties, cities, housing authorities, schools, and other institutions. Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Peru, Portugal, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Iceland, Finland, United States, Canada and the Republic of Korea are countries where this system is currently spreading and is more common today.

It's time to let the public participate in budgeting Paarticipatory BudgetingPhoto: Olivia Alsept-Ellis–Danny Cage, left, with PB Oregon consultant Jim Labbe

Portland, Oregon (Danny Cage).– Portland needs to join the growing list of cities that rely on the 'participatory budgeting' process.

What if communities directly facing these challenges could directly shape the solutions? That is the premise of participatory budgeting (PB), a form of participatory democracy many cities and communities are embracing as a solution to growing inequity, division, and injustice.

But what is PB and how does it work? PB starts when elected officials decide to share power by letting ordinary residents decide how to spend a portion of the public budget. After that the process usually consists of five basic steps:

A paid steering committee representative of the community established basic scope and parameters in a process rule book.

People brainstorm ideas.

Community budget delegates and government staff refine ideas into projects vetted for legality, feasibility and sometimes equity and impact.

Projects go back to the community for a binding vote or decision.

Governments implement the winning projects with available funds and the process starts again.

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