Participatory Budgeting: How Tax Money is Spent

Participatory budgeting, in which the public has a direct say over how tax money is spent, has been practiced for more than ten years in Chicago. It was introduced to the United States in the 49th ward of the North Side in 2009.

Participatory Budgeting: How Tax Money is Spent
Participatory Budgeting: How Tax Money is Spent

So-Called Participatory Budgeting

Every year, $1.5 million in infrastructure projects in Chicago are put to a vote by the city’s citizens, although participatory budgeting (PB) has not yet been widely adopted. The newly elected mayor of the city, who has promised to work with the populace, is seen by supporters as giving Chicago a chance to lead the way in participatory democracy.

Two odd gym facilities with gravity workout equipment, pull-up bars, and chairs may be seen on Chicago’s north lakefront next to Rogers Park. Three children and their grandma are playing while three young men use lateral equipment at these stations, which resemble playgrounds and gyms. Britain Konczal, 12, grinned widely as she swung back and forth on a fitness machine. “I have absolutely no idea [what I’m doing], but according to this I’m working out my upper body and I’m stretching at the leg lift station,” she said. According to Regina Dorsette, the grandchildren enjoy it and it encourages Regina to get moving.

Doresette, a newcomer to the region, is shocked to learn how this workout station came to be. Through an annual procedure known as participatory budgeting, community people pitched it, worked with the city to construct it, and then essentially campaigned for it in a public, ward-level election.

Participatory Budgeting in Chicago is Expanding

Hadden is passionate about the long-standing participatory budgeting system in the 49th Ward. She wasn’t the council member that brought it to Chicago; that was her predecessor, but she was a North Side resident at the time who was fed up with politics and the 2008 recession. Prior to entering politics, Hadden worked on participatory budgeting for years. She will now utilize her position as an alder person to advocate for a wider, more inclusive process that concentrates on Chicago’s kids because she believes it will be appealing to the city’s next mayor.

According to a statement from Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office, the mayor’s office will look into methods to include elements of participatory budgeting into the entire budget process.

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