Sep 26, 2023 - News

Participatory budgeting debates on tap

An organizer in winter gear speaks at a microphone outside Cleveland City Hall

PB Cle's Jonathan Welle will be among the debaters supporting Issue 38 in tonight's event. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

As members of PB Cle prepare for their debate Tuesday evening at Cleveland Public Auditorium, others in their coalition are traveling to Columbus to testify against legislation that would preempt Issue 38, the participatory budgeting charter amendment.

Why it matters: State Sen. Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland) last week introduced Senate Bill 158, which would ban participatory budgeting in Ohio by mandating that only the city council can determine how a given city spends its money.

The latest: In a statement Monday, PB Cle called on Cleveland's elected leaders to denounce SB 158, which they called a "cynical ploy" to silence local voters.

What they're saying: "No matter where Clevelanders stand on Issue 38, there is no room for Columbus to strip away our right to make decisions for ourselves," PB Cle said.

  • "Pro-democracy elected officials must call SB 158 what it is: a shameless attack on democracy. Silence on SB 158 is as good as an endorsement."

The other side: The Justin Bibb administration and the City Council adamantly oppose Issue 38, but Bibb and several council members have come out in measured opposition to Cirino's statehouse bill.

  • "While my administration is opposed to Issue 38, we have serious concerns about proposed state preemption laws and don't think the state should step into a local issue," Bibb said.

What's next: The Senate General Government Committee meets at 3pm to discuss SB 158. You can watch it here.

  • The local debate over Issue 38 between PB Cle representatives and Councilman Kris Harsh, the most outspoken opponent, is at 6pm Tuesday at Cleveland Public Auditorium.
  • The free event is open to the public and will be streamed on TV20.

Go deeper: Before Tuesday night's debate, here's a refresher on both sides of Issue 38 from Signal Cleveland.


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