In the City Council primaries, voters chose 21 Council Member candidates who have pledged to use participatory budgeting to allocate discretionary funds in their district through the PBNYC process, which would enable residents to directly decide how to spend at least $25 million on community improvements.
In the Democratic mayoral primary, Bill de Blasio seems to have secured enough votes to avoid a runoff. In his A Government as Great as Our City policy booklet, de Blasio committed to “scale up participatory budgeting in council districts across New York City [and] pilot expanding participatory budgeting to broader pools of city grant funding.”
The rapid expansion of PBNYC from the existing nine districts to 21 across the city is a great opportunity for New Yorkers to get involved in prioritizing investments in their own communities. But it also presents a significant challenge – getting communities engaged in PB is time consuming and the city budget process can be very complex. PBNYC will need significant support from the next Mayor and Council Speaker, who could take this model of grassroots democracy to the next level by committing to allocate additional public funds through PB and to provide the staffing and support necessary to implement the process effectively.