About Participatory Budgeting

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. In other words, the people who pay taxes (all of us) decide how tax dollars get spent.

The Brazilian city of Porto Alegre started the first full PB process in 1989, for its municipal budget. Since then, PB has spread to more than 1,500 cities around the world. It’s usually used for city budgets, but states, counties, schools, universities, housing authorities, and coalitions of community groups have also used PB to open up spending decisions to the people.

How does it work?

PB lets the whole community participate in decision-making. It’s a yearlong process of public meetings, to make sure that people have the time and resources to make wise decisions. Community members discuss local needs and develop proposals to meet these needs. Through a public vote, residents then decide which proposals to fund.

For more information on Participatory Budgeting and how it has worked elsewhere, visit the website of The Participatory Budgeting Project.