Victory! Citywide PB is on the ballot in NYC – will you help it win?

Big News!

After years of hard work, we’re thrilled to announce a major victory for participatory budgeting (PB) in New York City and beyond:

NYC’s Charter Reform Commission just decided to include a ballot measure in the November election calling for a new citywide PB process. The measure also includes expanded support from a new Civic Engagement Commission. See the ballot proposal itself below.

If voters approve the ballot measure, Mayor de Blasio will launch a major new PB process - the largest in the US, if not the world.

For the past eight years we have worked with partners* to grow PBNYC from a small experiment into the largest local civic engagement program in the country. What started in four council districts now engages 100,000 people each year. We couldn’t do this work without your support.

Now we have an opportunity to raise the bar, but we need your help. We have two months to build support for the ballot measure. Will you help spread the word and encourage New Yorkers to vote for citywide PB?

If voters approve the ballot measure, Mayor de Blasio will launch a major new PB process - the largest in the US, if not the world.

We advised the Charter Revision Commission on the ballot measure. We know that this is a big opportunity with strong internal backing.

“At a time when our democracy is increasingly under attack, we need to build up our democratic muscles,” said PBP Co-Executive Director Josh Lerner. “By investing in civic engagement, we can empower hundreds of thousands of residents to get more involved, to step up as leaders, and to help government make better decisions. The proposed charter revision calling for a Civic Engagement Commission and citywide participatory budgeting is a bold step in the right direction, one that can turn New York City into a global leader in democracy."

Special thanks to Council Member Brad Lander for championing the Civic Engagement Commission proposal, and to our allies NY Civic Engagement Table, Community Voices Heard, Common Cause, Community Development Project, the PBNYC Citywide Committee, and the District 39 PB Youth Committee for advocating for PB expansion.

Question # 2: Civic Engagement Commission

This proposal would amend the City Charter to:

Create a Civic Engagement Commission that would implement, no later than the City Fiscal Year beginning July 1, 2020, a Citywide participatory budgeting program established by the Mayor to promote participation by City residents in making recommendations for projects in their communities;

Require the Commission to partner with community based organizations and civic leaders, as well as other City agencies, to support and encourage civic engagement efforts;

Require the Commission to establish a program to provide language interpreters at City poll sites, to be implemented for the general election in 2020;

Permit the Mayor to assign relevant powers and duties of certain other City agencies to the Commission;

Provide that the Civic Engagement Commission would have 15 members, with 8 members appointed by the Mayor, 2 members by the City Council Speaker and 1 member by each Borough President; and

Provide for one of the Mayor’s appointees to be Commission Chair and for the Chair to employ and direct Commission staff.

Also, idea collection is happening now for City Council’s PBNYC process. Share your ideas and get involved here.

About Josh Lerner

Josh is co-founder and Co-Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project. He has over 15 years of experience developing, researching, and working with leading community engagement programs across North America, Latin America, and Europe. He is the author of Making Democracy Fun: How Game Design Can Empower Citizens and Transform Politics, Everyone Counts: Could Participatory Budgeting Change Democracy?, and over 20 articles.

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