Your City, Your Money, You Decide!

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PB NYC announces winning projects

Residents of several New York City council districts voted to improve senior centers, parks, school and handicapped accessibility among many other things during the last round of PB votes last weekend. To see the results from each ballot, check out their website: http://pbnyc.org/. Congrats New York!

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Landrieu hopes new taxes can cover costs of consent decrees, pension fund

The City of New Orleans is facing a major problem– how to pay for two consent decrees and shore up the millions due to the firefighter’s pension fund while keeping the books balanced. Mayor Mitch Landrieu is hoping to create new revenues by passing three pieces of legislation through Baton Rouge this session to solve the problem. By raising taxes on cigarettes, hotels and property, the Mayor hopes to make up the $34 to $49 million needed to pay for improvements to the Orleans Parish Prison, the New Orleans Police Department and satisfy the debts owed to the firefighter’s pension fund.

You can read more in this report from The Lens.

How do you think the City should pay for the consent decrees? Are you willing to pay more taxes? In many cities, new taxes help fund Participatory Budgeting programs to give residents a sense of ownership over the tax dollars they pay. Would you be more supportive of the Mayor’s plan if you could control some of the new revenues?

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When Citizen Engagement Saves Lives (and what we can learn from it)

Did you know that PB “is associated with a pronounced reduction in the infant mortality rates for municipalities which adopted participatory budgeting” ? Check out this post for an interesting paper that studies the long-term benefits of a more civically engaged society.


When it comes to the relationship between participatory institutions and development outcomes, participatory budgeting stands out as one of the best examples out there. For instance, in a paper recently published in World Development,  Sonia Gonçalves finds that municipalities that adopted participatory budgeting in Brazil “favoured an allocation of public expenditures that closely matched the popular preferences and channeled a larger fraction of their total budget to key investments in sanitation and health services.”  As a consequence, the author also finds that this change in the allocation of public expenditures “is associated with a pronounced reduction in the infant mortality rates for municipalities which adopted participatory budgeting.”

Now, in an excellent new article published in Comparative Political Studies, the authors Michael Touchton and Brian Wampler come up with similar findings (abstract):

We evaluate the role of a new type of democratic institution, participatory budgeting (PB), for improving citizens’ well-being. Participatory institutions are said to…

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White House to promote PB as a best practice in open government!

The White House declared that it will promote Participatory Budgeting as a best practice in open governance as a part of its Open Governance National Action Plan

Here’s what they’ve got to say: 

“The United States will promote community-led participatory budgeting as a tool for enabling citizens to play a role in identifying, discussing, and prioritizing certain local public spending projects, and for giving citizens a voice in how taxpayer dollars are spent in their communities. This commitment will include steps by the U.S. Government to help raise awareness of the fact that participatory budgeting may be used for certain eligible Federal community development grant programs.”

It’s time for New Orleans to be a leader in the fight for transparency!