Citizen Participation in Resource Allocation

By William Simonsen; Mark D. Robbins | Go to book overview

Introduction

This book is about public participation, citizen surveys, and government decision making. The book spotlights two very important areas where there is a lack of current research. First, it provides an overview and synthesis of state-of-the-art techniques for involving citizens in decision making. Second, this book provides a set of analyses of three innovative surveys of Eugene, Oregon, residents. We hope to contribute some interesting social science research while at the same time providing a guide for government officials.

Much attention has been given to creating processes by which citizens can be reengaged in government priority setting. This has come in large part as a response to the disaffection of the public, as demonstrated by low voter turnout and citizen distrust, and the continuing pursuit of tax limitation efforts. According to the National Association of State Budget Officers, in 1996 (the last year for which complete data is available) voters passed new tax limitation measures in eight states -- Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Oregon, and South Dakota ( Mazer, 1996 ). Although complete estimates of the economic effects have not been prepared, these limitations result in substantial revenue reductions for the affected state and local governments.

Some innovative processes have been used by governments to engage the public in a debate that moves beyond reliance on public hearings and toward the active deliberation of the citizenry. These efforts are predicated on the belief that the public, presented with realistic and detailed information, can make informed judgments to guide decision makers.

These techniques try to reach beyond gridlock and find new ways to engage the public in decision making -- but these ideas and approaches do not come out of a vacuum. There is a long legacy of citizen involvement with government in the United States. The lessons learned from this earlier work shed light on contemporary participatory efforts. This book places the contemporary attempts to involve citizens in government in the context of theoretical themes and historical reforms.

Our interest is in the relationship between citizens and local government budgeting as it is broadly construed. We are more concerned in this book with the ways in which citizen preferences may affect resource decisions than we are in reviewing specific approaches to budgeting. Thus,

-xiii-

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Citizen Participation in Resource Allocation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Notes xx
  • 1 - Theoretical and Historical Context of Public Participation 1
  • Notes 19
  • 2 - Contemporary Techniques for Citizen Involvement 21
  • Notes 42
  • 3 - How Do (citizens Balance the Budget? 45
  • Notes 70
  • 4 - How Fiscal Information and Service Use Influence Citizen Preferences 71
  • Notes 112
  • 5 - Conclusions: Lessons for Governments 115
  • Appendices 125
  • References 163
  • Index 173
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