So I just finished reading Susan Tanaka's (2007) discussion of "Engaging the Public in National Budgeting." She gives a good summary of the challenges of taking participatory budgeting (PB) to a national scale (at some level, you still need to be able to look all neighbors in the eye, Sale would remind us).
Then I crack open today's news and read that Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has launched Stimulus.Virginia.Gov, a portal where Virginians (and anyone else interested) can submit ideas for how Virginia ought to use its chunk of the stimulus package (which may arrive on Obama's desk by the weekend).
Gov. Kaine opened the site yesterday. As of 16:08 EST today, I find 763 proposals for all sorts of projects:
- #710: Replace the town of Chilhowie's water tanks ($1,500,000).
- #725: Keep Aubrey Temple's hardware store open ($50,000).
- #753: Every penny to direct tax relief ($TBD).
- #759: Subsidize medication for old folks and fix up hospitals ($100,000,000).
- #760: resurface roads in Rocky Run ($100,000).
- #762: replace an organization's furnace with new green equipment ($3,000).
I also find a nice little "Export to Excel" button that would allow me to download the whole list of proposals and sort them by dollar amount, proposer, etc. Bless you, Virginia.
Now this isn't national PB; this is just Virginia looking for ideas on how to spend its portion. But Virginia's a big state, and this is a truckload of money. Every state should be soliciting citizen input this way.
Tanaka, Susan. (2007). "Engaging the Public in National Budgeting: A Non-Governmental Perspective." OECD Journal on Budgeting (7:2), 139–177.