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What's On The Ballot? Issue #38: People's Budget

Written by Greater Cleveland Congregations

Cleveland, Ohio, Issue 38, People’s Budget Initiative

Okay, so again … we can’t tell you how to vote, but this seems like a slam dunk as far as we’re concerned. You may have other ideas, and we love that for you. Also, this is a Democracy, and you’re in control. 

So what is the People’s Budget?

The People's Budget is a charter amendment allowing Cleveland residents ages 13 and up to propose and vote on projects using up to 2% of Cleveland’s General Fund.

13 and up? Really?

Yep. Teenagers live in Cleveland, too, and they have plenty of great ideas. 

Right. So what does this mean?

The idea is to get city residents who are typically ignored — lower income people, for example — directly involved in local decision making by playing with house money. In politics, money is power, and this is our house. And what is Cleveland’s General Fund?

It’s money set aside for routine city services, and it changes from year to year. In 2023 it was $711 million. 

Lemme do some math …

2% is $14.22 million. However …

Of course there’s a catch.

Well, sort of. In 2024, we won’t be allowed to spend anything because the People’s Budget doesn’t start until 2025. In the first year, We the People are only allowed to spend 1%, then 1.5%, then 2%. It’s capped at 2%. 

What can we spend it on?

Improvements to our neighborhoods and communities. Projects we think are important that the city doesn’t always prioritize. A 10-person panel will decide how we should spend the money, and the rest of us vote online or in-person to approve or deny funding for those projects. 

So it’s not just a group of 13-year olds running the show.

Gosh, no. There are plenty of checks and balances. In fact, the mayor gets to appoint half the members of the panel.

Have other cities in the US tried this?

Yes, including Boston, New York City, Greensboro, SC, Grand Rapids, MI, Hartford, CT. 

Sounds good. And what does the People’s Budget look like on Ballotpedia?

Glad you asked. Here you go: 

A "yes" vote supports creating a People's Budget (participatory budgeting) process in Cleveland, allowing residents to propose and vote on city-wide and neighborhood-specific projects using money allocated to the People's Budget Fund.

"no" vote opposes creating a People's Budget process in Cleveland.


Power to the People, not just politicians. Vote on November 7.