The People’s Voice, The People’s Choice: An Overview of Participatory Budgeting in the United States

Marilyn Marks Rubin, Wendy M. Nicholson


Participatory budgeting was launched in the U.S. in 2009 in Chicago, Illinois, by a member of the city’s Board of Aldermen (the city council) who used $1 million of his discretionary funds to bring his constituents directly into the local budget decision-making process. By 2018, there were 23 more U.S. jurisdictions with a PB process in place: 12 with PB in selected areas (districts); six with a citywide initiative; five with an initiative to allocate specific pots of money, e.g., CDBG funds (see Table 1); and six with an initiative to bring young voters or high school students into budget decisions. In this descriptive paper, we provide a synopsis of PB initiatives in the U.S. based on publically available information and personal interviews with individuals involved in the PB process. Our paper adds to the literature by providing a review of PB initiatives across the U.S. that will be particularly useful for readers who are looking for a quick purview of the topic or who have limited knowledge of PB. 



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Chinese Public Administration Review (ISSN 1539-6754, Online ISSN 2573-1483)  is published by the Institute for Public Service at Suffolk University - Boston.