CLEVELAND (WJW) — Voters in Cleveland narrowly rejected a charter amendment that would have essentially allowed city residents to decide what a portion of the city’s nearly $2 billion budget would be spent on.
Supporters argued it would have given Clevelanders input on how their tax dollars are spent, but opponents said it could be disastrous for the budget and lead to a cut in city services.
In a press release following the defeat, organizers of the amendment said the loss by just 1,388 votes signals that Cleveland is ready for “bold change to put resident needs over corporate interests.”
The statement from the People’s Budget Cleveland Coalition went on to read in part:
Nearly 32,000 Clevelanders voted for a policy that many learned about only in the last year and that expresses what they know intuitively: that residents deserve a say in how public money gets spent. Today, participatory budgeting is known across the state, and dozens of state legislators took action to keep the door open for participatory budgeting arriving in the future. Hundreds of residents learned more about how to catalyze change. And most importantly, thousands of Clevelanders expressed their needs and hopes for what the city can do to make their life better, an act of political expansion that will forever change what people expect from our city and how they see themselves in relation to it.Statement from People’s Budget Cleveland
A joint statement from Cleveland City Council members, who opposed the amendment, said they were grateful for “the people’s trust, belief, and partnership in democracy.”
The statement went on to read in part:
In this age of ever-evolving challenges, community involvement is crucial. The members of this body engage with our residents every day — from social media to run-ins at the grocery stores to ward meetings and beyond. Participatory budgeting, as an idea, sought to give citizens a direct say in how public funds are allocated. We recognize the need to engage the public and will continue improving how and when we do it as we move forward as a body.Statement from Cleveland City Council
If passed, Issue 38 would have created a steering committee that would get public input from residents and create ballot issues that Clevelanders could vote on for the programs and services they feel are important. Organizers said their fight isn’t over.
“This isn’t the end of the story. The movement for a people’s budget is an early chapter in a much longer story that puts the needs of our communities at the center of policy making over corporate interests, while building power in the community for important fights to come,” reads their release.