Public Budgets

Communicating Effectively about Public Budgets

Public budgets — local, state and federal — are tools used to allocate resources and are ultimately a statement of our values. They announce what public initiatives we value enough to pay for as well as who should pay for them and how much.

We need to foster a more practical and solutions-oriented public discussion about taxes and budgets.

We must:

Explain how public expenditures benefit us all, focusing on the shared benefits of our public expenditures, not merely the direct recipients of specific government programs.

Lengthen the time horizon of budget conversations, helping people to see that the purpose of government is to plan for the future and to build upon investments of the past.

Connect taxes to what they pay for and help Americans to see budgets not simply as ledgers or balance sheets but as tools for the common good.

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  • Publications: Tip Sheet: Communicating Effectively about Public Budgets

    Many advocates and public leaders are steeped in public budgets but struggle to help the average person understand why budget decision-making is so important to how we run our communities and how those decisions are deeply connected to our quality of life. This document (November 2011) is a summary of the key concepts we teach in our training’s about how to communicate effectively about public budgets.



  • Research: How to Talk about Budgets and Taxes: A FrameWorks MessageMemo

    In 2009, Public Works sponsored research conducted by FrameWorks into public attitudes around public budget and taxes. This guide outlines the summary of the research findings and key recommendations for changing the conversation.



  • Research: Like Mars to Venus: The Separate and Sketchy Worlds of Budget and Taxes

    “Like Mars to Venus: the Separate and Sketchy Worlds of Budgets and Taxes” (February 2009) gives an overview of research conducted by the FrameWorks Institute and sponsored by Public Works. This research revealed that for many Americans the concepts of budgets and taxes are disconnected from one another and that Americans view both through an individualistic lens.



  • Presentations and Webinars: Communicating Effectively about Public Budgets Presentation

    Public budgets — local, state and federal — are tools used to allocate resources and are ultimately a statement of our values. They announce what public initiatives we value enough to pay for as well as who should pay for them and how much. In this slide presentation you will learn the dominant ways the American public views budgets and ways to foster a more productive conversation on paying for the things we need.



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