HELP BRING PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING TO OREGON

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Participatory budgeting is unlikely to happen unless elected officials decide to share real power and delegate decision making to the community. That won't happen until we make our voices heard and demand real participatory democracy.​ This November there are three vital actions you can take to advance PB in Oregon:

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Help Fund a 2nd Cycle of
Youth Voice Youth Vote PB!

1. Testify 11/17 or 11/19 to put participatory budgeting in the Portland Charter: The Portland Charter Commission's work is not finished. In July, the Charter Commission started Phase II of its work. A diverse coalition of organizations have endorsed Phase II Charter Amendment Platform that includes a PB charter mandate modeled on the charter amendment Boston voters adopted in November 2021. Thanks to a lot of grassroots advocacy by PMPC, DSA, 350pdx, Sunrise PDX, and PB Oregon, the Charter Commission is now developing an amendment to establish Citywide PB process open "to all Portland residents." The amendment would require the City to annually allocate a minimum percentage of the general fund through the PB process. The draft charter amendment reads:

 

"Section 2-129
To further public engagement and democratic involvement in city spending, the City must create by ordinance a Participatory Budgeting Program open to all residents, consistent with the Oregon Local Budget Law. Annual funding for the Program must be no less than 1% of the City’s General Fund discretionary ongoing resources, and the public’s funding allocation decisions must be binding. The Program must begin operating no later than July 2026."

Please sign up testify and make your voice heard at hearings on November 17 (6-8pm) or November 19 (12-1pm)  when the Charter Commission consider a PB Charter amendment and other Climate & Environmental Justice Amendments (see link below for more details). 

Urge the Charter Commission to refer the amendment directly to the voters to ensure a per-capita PB process in Portland that can meet existing best practices.

Key Points:

(1) Best Practices to ensure equitable and sustainable PB in Portland: The draft proposed charter amendment provides the minimum program funding to allow for a robust and equitable launch of PB in Portland consistent with recommended best practices.

 

(2) Minimum Per-capita Size of PB Allocation Important: The proposed amendment is projected to yield a $7.3 million PB program in the FY 25-26 budget. This should provide sufficient funding for a per capita PB process in Portland of between $9-10 per Portland resident. This is roughly equivalent to the Participatory Budgeting Project’s recommended best practice of allocating $1,000,000 per 100,000 residents or $10 per resident.

 

(3) Robust & Equitable Process Implementation: The proposed amendment should afford the City of Portland to implement a robust PB process that can apply best practices for engaging hard-to-reach, under-represented communities with culturally-specific outreach and training, translation & interpretation, food and other participation incentives.. 

 

(4) Voters support PB: Charter amendments mandating participatory budgeting passed by at least 2/3rd(>66%)  of voters in New York in 2018 and Boston in 2021.

(4) Refer the charter amendment directly to the voters. The City Council has failed since 2018 to launch PB in Portland. The Council has a conflict of interest in decisions to share budgeting power with Portland residents. That is why PB belongs in the Charter. The voters should decide on this redistribution of power, not the City Council. Referring the amendment to the voters is the best chance of securing passage. Over 66% New York voters and 67% of Boston voters passed similar charter amendments in 2018 and 2021, respectively.

(5) PB Process means deeper & more transformative and equitable impacts: Research on PB around the world indicates that the total dollar amount per capita allocated through PB is a key determinant of PB impacts and benefits including:

 

  • Broader & Deeper Participation: Research indicates that the higher per-capita dollars allocated through PB contributes to a greater number and diversity of participants. PB participation in turn becomes a stepping stone to broader civic and political participation. For example, research demonstrates PB participants eligible to vote are more likely to vote in local elections. These effects have been shown to be strongest among those least likely to vote and directly related to the amount of funds per-capita allocated through PB

  • More Equitable Outcomes: More and more diverse people participating tends to drive more equitable investment outcomes.

  • Establishing & Sustaining PB: The quantity of funds allocated through PB must be large enough so that enough people experience exercising power, stay involved, and become a constituency for sustaining the process. 

  • Better Data on Community Priorities: The more people who participate over multiple cycles would increase the quantity and quality of data about what Portlanders prioritize when given the power and the responsibility to make budgeting trade-offs. Over-time this information can be used by elected officials to set priorities in the traditional budgeting process. 

(6) Refer the charter amendment directly to the voters. The City Council has failed since 2018 to launch PB in Portland. The Council has a conflict of interest in decisions to share budgeting power with Portland residents. That is why PB belongs in the Charter. The voters should decide on this redistribution of power, not the City Council. Referring the amendment to the voters is the best chance of securing passage. Over 66% New York voters and 67% of Boston voters passed similar charter amendments in 2018 and 2021, respectively.

If you can't testify November 17 or 19, please send an email to the Portland Charter Commission.

Finally, please consider supporting the other Portland Metro People's Coalition Phase II Platform Amendments for Climate & Environmental Justice using this toolkit.

2. Vote Yes on Measure 26-228 on your Portland ballot this November: Portland is the only major City on the West Coast that hasn't launched municipal participatory budgeting. Portland's antiquated 109-year old Commission form of government is among the reasons. The City charter amendments proposed by the Portland Charter Commission that will appear on the November ballot as Measure 26-228 will provide for more unified and integrated city administration accountable to a much more equitable system of district representation and a more participatory and meaningful rank choice voting. All these things will improve and democratize our municipal government, making it more likely that Portland will become an innovator in participatory democracy once again. Vote Yes on Measure 26-228 on your ballot this November and get involved in the ballot measure campaign

3. Urge the Gresham City Council to Fund Youth PB with Local ARPA Funds: We need your help persuading the Gresham City Council to fund youth PB! In November or December the Gresham City Council should vote to allocate its remaining $13 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. We have advocated sharing power with Gresham youth disproportionally impacted by COVID to decide how to spend $1 million in ARPA funds for relief and recovery projects. The Council could do this by funding a 2nd cycle of Youth Voice Youth Vote PB. Lend your voice to this effort by emailing the Gresham City Council.

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