NOW IS THE CHANCE!
TO PUT PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING IN THE PORTLAND CHARTER
On January 19 at 2pm the Portland City Council will consider sending a charter amendment to the voters that would require the City to establish a participatory budgeting program accessible to all Portlanders and funded with at least 1% of ongoing discretionary General Fund budget resources.
We need your help on or before January 19 in urging the City Council to send this participatory budgeting charter amendment to Portland voters!
(1) Email or call the City Council by January 18. See MAIN message and KEY points below. If calling you can also use this script.
Mayor Wheeler: firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-823-4120
Commissioner Rubio: Comm.Rubio@portlandoregon.gov, 503-823-3008
Commissioner Mapps: MappsOffice@portlandoregon.gov, 503-823-4682
Commissioner Ryan: CommissionerRyanOffice@portlandoregon.gov, 503-823-3589
Commissioner Gonzales: email@example.com, 503-823-4151
Council Testimony: firstname.lastname@example.org
(2) Testify in person at the January 19 City Council meeting. Sign up to testify on Council agenda Item #66 here. Council meeting begins at 2pm and the draft charter amendments are the second item on the agenda so public testimony could begin as late as 3:45pm.
Urge the City Council to refer the participatory budgeting charter amendment to the voters in November 2024 election without changes in order to ensure a per-capita PB process in Portland that can meet existing best practices. of at least $1,000,000 per 100,000 residents.
Portlanders have been asking the City Council to bring participatory budgeting (PB) to Portland for over 5 years. But Portland remains the only major City on the West Coast to not launch a municipal PB process. But that could change.
One of the Portland Charter Commission's final actions was sending a charter amendment to the City Council that would require the City establish a Citywide participatory budgeting program open to all residents by 2026. Modeled on a charter amendments adopted by Boston voters in November 2021, the Portland PB amendment would break new ground by requiring the allocation of a minimum percentage of the budget be allocated through PB, ensuring meaningful impact and growth with the City's population over time. The draft charter amendment would add the following language to the Charter:
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."
See here for more detail on the PB Charter Amendment. Similar charter amendments have passed by over 66% of voters in Boston and New York. But for voters to get a chance of putting the amendment in the Charter, the Portland City Council will have to refer the measure to the voters. That won't happen unless the City Council hears from constituents via phone calls, emails, and public testimony.
Some KEY Points:
(1) Time for action on PB: Portland has been asking the City Council to launch PB for at least 5 years. Portlanders are ready and leading the way. PB has been widely implemented and researched across the globe, in the United States, in all major West Pacific Coast Coast except Portland including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, Victoria and Vancouver BC.
(2) Transparent & Accountable Budgeting: The waste and mis-use of public funds in Portland continues to erode the trust in and the efficacy of government. By increasing transparency and accountability over public funds and enlisting all Portlanders in helping drive some Bureau investments/projects, PB will help align government investments with Portlanders' priorities resulting in more effective and trustworthy government.
(3) Minimum Per-capita Size of PB Allocation Important: The proposed amendment is projected to yield a $7.15 million PB program in the FY 25-26 budget. This is would meet- for Portland- the Participatory Budgeting Project’s recommended best practice of allocating $1,000,000 per 100,000 residents or $10 per resident (see Urban Institute Report Best Practices for Inclusive Participatory Budgeting). Research around the world indicates that the total dollar amount per capita allocated through PB is a key determinant of PB impacts & benefits including more equitable participation and outcomes:
Impacts of Participatory Budgeting on Governance & Well-Being
Impacts of Participatory Budgeting on Civil Society & Political Participation
(5) Voters support PB: Similiar charter amendments mandating participatory budgeting passed by more than 66% of voters in New York in 2018 and Boston in 2021.