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Everyone CountsCould "Participatory Budgeting" Change Democracy?$
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Josh Lerner

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801456657

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801456657.001.0001

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The Problems with Potholes

The Problems with Potholes

(p.24) The Problems with Potholes
Everyone Counts

Josh Lerner

Cornell University Press

This chapter addresses the issue of whether participatory budgeting (PB) in the US would repeat the same pattern from Brazil—by being a “pro-poor” program, in which poor people participated more often and won more funding. For the first few years in the US, the answer was a definite maybe; poor people in the US did not flock to PB. Unlike the favelas (shantytowns) of Brazil in which basic infrastructure improvements funded by PB are a top priority, streets in the US are already paved, and fixing potholes is a middle-class concern. Instead of satisfying basic needs, PB has often provided an outlet for creativity, such as underpass murals, artistic bike racks, and dog parks. PB is not inherently pro-poor in the United States, but it can inspire altruistic voting on behalf of projects that benefit other communities.

Keywords:   participatory budget, US PB process, Brazil, pro-poor program, middle-class, altruistic voting

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