The People’s Budget Sacramento is an organization working to rework the Sacramento City Budget in order to better reflect the wants and needs of Sacramentans. The organization is modeled off of another with the same name in Los Angeles, California. People’s Budget LA is a coalition of organizations including Black Lives Matter Los Angeles that has been organizing for the past 5 years to demand that the Los Angeles Police Department be defunded significantly to invest in their communities.
The Sacramento City Budget has drawn criticism recently from activists and community members for the amount it has continued to fund the Sacramento Police Department. According to The People’s Budget website, in the 2019-2020 Fiscal year, 30% of general fund allocations went to the police department, while youth, parks, and community enrichment received a combined 5%.
The People’s Budget has a clear message making their demands for community involvement and accountability when it comes to financial decision making crystal clear. The website explains, “The City and County of Sacramento make it too difficult to understand where resources are spent, what outcomes that spending delivers, and how citizens can engage in decision-making on budget spending. A big part of this process will be to model for the City and County how to make this information more accessible and how to facilitate future processes that engage more of the community before decisions are made.”
One criticism many organizations such as this are often faced with is that calls for defunding the police are not effective or are dangerous. The People’s Budget Sacramento provides examples of the successes of similar movements on their website as well as resources for political education. Online classes in the history of policing and abolitionism work to make the movement not only more accessible but also to promote involvement to those who may not have been involved in local politics before.
The work the People’s Budget does goes beyond fiscal policy and serves as a model for increased community involvement in policy. This national shift towards “people power” is already changing the way elected officials and governments work. This is especially clear in local governments like Sacramento where a candidate can reach out to and be more accessible to their constituents.
District 4 councilmember-elect, Katie Valenzuela, who spoke at the People’s Budget launch, explained in a tweet “When I was running, I had people tell me almost every single day I wouldn’t make it – that I didn’t understand ‘how things work.’ My campaign wasn’t an isolated incident. People-powered candidates are winning over corporate campaigns across California and across the country. ‘How things work’ is shifting, and I’m proud to be a part of that here in Sacramento. We proved them wrong then – and I’m confident we’ll keep proving them wrong”.
The People’s Budget Sacramento Survey is available now and will help the organizers draft a budget proposal that actually reflects the needs of Sacramentans. The survey will ask if the City should be providing more or less funding to various projects and ask for optional explanations in order to best reflect the desires of those taking the survey.
The City Budget is currently in what is called the “Planning Phase” and therefore the People’s Budget Sacramento wants to collect 2,000 responses before the meeting on September 1. Community engagement is of utmost importance to this organization and having a positive impact on local politics.