Community Budgeting for All
All Portlanders should have greater voice & vote in decisions impacting their lives and communities, including how public funds are spent.
Yet, access to the City budgeting process remains unequal, opaque, and distant, especially for marginalized communities. Now, Portland is at a turning point. A recent poll found that 63% of Portland voters believe finances are mismanaged, 66% do not believe the City is providing fair and equal services to all neighborhoods, and even larger majorities feel the city is failing to respond to residents needs. In order to increase transparency and accountability, improve trust, and better represent all Portlanders' priorities, Portland must join other North American Cities and establish a municipal participatory budgeting (PB) process.
Participatory Budgeting Benefits
In PB, residents decide how to spend a portion of the public budget. PB delegates real power over real money to residents to propose, develop and vote on solutions for their communities. This process can:
→ Increase transparency & accountability in how the City spends public dollars
→ Increase trust and cooperation between City staff and residents and between City residents of different backgrounds
→ Demonstrate the priorities of diverse residents when given the power to decide, including non-citizens and youth
→ Increase the efficacy of government for all Portlanders
Portlanders Strongly Support Participatory Budgeting
The recent poll conducted by FM3 Research on behalf of Participatory Budgeting Oregon reveals that 72% of Portland voters support implementing PB in Portland. Results demonstrate strong, durable and diverse support from likely Portland voters after receiving both brief and detailed explanations and positive and negative messaging. While strong across all demographics, geographies and political ideologies/party affiliations, support was particularly strong self described “Progressives” (78%) and “Conservative” (85%), voters of color (77%), lower income making <$50,000 (86%), Outer East Portland voters (79%), young (18-29) voters (83%) and women voters (78%). Additionally, over 51% of voters expressed interest in participating in a PB process. This survey didn't include youth & other non-voters who could participate and benefit too.
We Can Implement Participatory Budgeting in Portland
PB emerged in Brazil in 1989 and has since spread to over 11,000 communities and municipalities around the world, including over 500 cycles across the US since 2009. PB works in municipalities of all sizes, as it has launched in large cities like New York (8 million) and Chicago (2.7 million), mid-sized cities from Seattle, WA (750,000), to Durham, NC (283,000), or Vallejo, CA (126,000), and small towns like Evanston, IL (78,000) or Rockland, ME (3,600). Today, despite years of community advocacy, Portland remains the only major West Coast city- from LA to Vancouver BC- without a public, municipal-run PB process.
Portlanders are ready; some already have experience implementing PB. In 2022, Participatory Budgeting Oregon, other non-profits, and East Portland youth launched Youth Voice, Youth Vote PB to allocate $500,000 in ARPA Funds to Oregon’s first youth-led PB process.
As a late adopter, Portland can learn from other cities while ensuring that we are implementing an innovative and demonstrated way to improve our local democracy and our City. At a time when government is broken, PB is a demonstrated mechanism that will allow residents to address their most pressing needs across the City and in their new City Council Districts.
We Need Your Help
After years no action by the City Council to launch PB, the Portland Charter Commission crafted a charter amendment to require the City to implement and annual PB process open to all residents and funded with 1% of the General fund. Last January the City Council declined to forward the amendment to the voter.
Participatory Budgeting Oregon and Next Up are developing a Community Budgeting For All initiative petition campaign to put charter-mandated PB on the November 2024 ballot. We need volunteers to help. Please use this form to sign up for updates and volunteer opportunities.