"Knowledge is power." This especially rings true at the local level.
A state law adopted in 2002, the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), gives citizens the right to government information. This law guarantees your right to get public records in a timely and affordable manner. This includes budget documents, contracts, ordinances, resolutions, etc. Having this information is critical to effectively participating in government.
For example, if you want to expand after-school programs in the community, you need to know how much is currently being spent. You can also review the entire budget to see if there are ways to cut costs in other areas to free up money for after school programs.
The Citizens Campaign offers an online class (click here) to teach you how to become a "citizen legislator" so that you can get results by developing and proposing adoptable solutions at government meetings.