On Monday, September 26th, Mayor Murray delivered his annual budget speech to describe the investments that his proposed budget makes in Seattle’s future. For policy wonks, a budget is hugely important – it provides visibility into the priorities of government. It provides insight into government’s theory of change – how the use of a taxpayer dollar can make an positive impact for our community. It also provides an opportunity to celebrate past accomplishments, and to leverage those accomplishments to achieve new levels of constituent service and value.
But a budget isn’t just for technocrats. Budgets matter a great deal for those committed to civic innovation. Examining an executive’s proposed budget gives a sense of how they approach testing new ideas, investing in creativity, and creating a culture of asking why.
In looking at Mayor Murray’s budget, I’m pleased to see this budget reiterate the Mayor’s commitment to innovation. Related to the Innovation Team’s first project, the budget invests in strategies that aim to make a positive impact for young black men, including expansion of a My Brother’s Keeper mentoring program to five new schools and implementation of a model that tailors supports to young people at-risk of group violence. It also invests in development of a culturally-relevant approach to reducing incidence of adolescent family domestic violence and supports an innovative model for providing respite for youth in times of family conflict. Each of these investments represent a departure from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to serving and engaging youth, and instead is the result of members of our community coming together and asking why (and, more importantly, why not)?