On October 22 students from Dr. Larian Angelo’s Fall I class, The Politics of New York City, were given a firsthand opportunity to learn the workings of the city’s budgeting process by visiting the City Council Finance Division. Jeff Rodus, First Deputy Director, and John Russell, Senior Financial Analyst, provided an overview of the capital budget process, explained how the city’s long-term projects are funded by bonds and reviewed how the Finance Division supports city council members with their capital spending projects. They also advised students about the best educational paths to public service careers and the value of internships to securing jobs.
Students also met with City Council Member Brad Lander from District 39 in Brooklyn, who is active in participatory budgeting within his district. He explained how a list of capital needs is created, reviewed and ultimately voted on in his district for a variety of projects, such as new schools and transportation improvements. Council Member Lander emphasized how participatory budgeting engages residents in the budget process and provides a shared sense of stewardship for community-based projects.
Students may volunteer as Budget Delegates in those Council districts that practice participatory budgeting to gain experience in the budgeting process. At the conclusion of these meetings, Dr. Angelo, who formally served as Director of the New York City Council Finance Division, noted to students that “budgets are all about choices.”
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