Vermonters push for a state Public Bank

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A group of Vermonters met at the Hartland Library on January 12 to hear how a Vermont State Bank would benefit the state.

Gwendolyn Hallsmith and Henry Jacqz of Vermonters for a New Economy, explained that a state-owned bank could easily hold and manage $350 million — the average uncommitted balance in the state’s bank accounts — so Vermonters could reap the benefits of leveraging capital and extending credit, instead of giving those benefits to shareholders of a private bank.

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Banks extort $5.4 billion in overdraft fees last year from poor people — outraged?

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In a year when American financial behemoths rake in a record $171.3 billion in profit, the big three — Wells, JPMorgan, and BofA— chose to shake down poor people for a whopping $5.4 billion in overdraft fees.

In 2017, that works out to about 183 million charges of $35 a pop. That's a 270 percent increase from the $1.97 billion reported in a 2006 FDIC study. A study in the UK last year showed that bank overdrafts were 8 times more costly than payday loans.

Scandal-ridden big banks likewise charge exorbitant fees from our state and local governments. Big banks have been caught red handed in bid rigging, bribery, and myriad other scams to take money from states and municipalities.

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Michigan lawmakers file bi-partisan bill to create a State Public Bank

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State Rep. Martin Howrylak (seated, second from right), of Troy, introduces bipartisan legislation at the Clerk’s Office of the House of Representatives that would create a state-owned bank in Michigan. Howrylak was joined by (from left) state Reps. Henry Yanez of Sterling Heights, Abdullah Hammoud of Dearborn and Peter Lucido of Shelby Township.

 

Michigan leaps forward into the running for the first state in a hundred years to create a state Public Bank, thanks to Republicans and Democrats working together for their state's best interests.

Last Thursday, MI House Bills 5431-5434 were formally introduced — a bipartisan package of bills that would create and maintain a state bank. According to a statement by State Rep. Martin Howrylak (R), the Michigan state-run bank would effectively be a co-operative, holding state and local government funds. The bank could then use those funds to provide loans to the state and its subdivisions (schools, cities, townships, villages, etc.).

Howrylak continued:

This is a fiscally responsible solution for taxpayers. As states are looking for ways to reduce spending, many are exploring the idea of a state-owned bank, similar to the Bank of North Dakota. In North Dakota, public revenue runs through the state-owned bank (Bank of North Dakota, BND). The BND provides loans significantly below market interest rates to local governments, smaller banks and businesses. Local governments and schools use these savings to pump more money into classrooms, expand access to infrastructure funding and keep tax rates low.”

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Gov. Murphy's team launches NJ State Public Bank bill into legislature

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NJ State Senator Nia Gill. Photo courtesy Politico.

 

Trailblazer New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wastes no time. Directly following his swearing in last week, State Senators Nia Gill and Richard Codey introduced the State Bank of New Jersey Act at the beginning of the legislative session.

According to Politico:

"Under the Codey-Gill proposal, all public entities in New Jersey would be able to use the state-run bank. It would provide transportation project loans, student loans, small business loans and be able to purchase mortgages from commercial banks. The bank would also be able to purchase, lease and construct buildings, and would even have the power of eminent domain. And it would be able to buy and sell federal funds."

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PBI Chair Ellen Brown and former Chair Walt McRee present on Public Banks at national conference on sustainable infrastructure

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Ellen Brown and Walt McRee head to Washington DC this week for the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) conference on Sustainable Infrastructure

The conference features experts from around the globe and will host thousands of participants. Ellen and Walt are conducting a workshop "The Backbone of Sustainable Infrastructure: Cooperative Ownership & Public Banks.” The workshop will explain how co-ops and Public Banks provide the structural mechanics for creation of a “new regenerative economy” (NRE) that goes beyond mere sustainability to embrace a commitment to public service that generates human-focused community outcomes rather than mere paper profits. 

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Santa Cruz and California are ready for Public Banking

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An eloquent op-ed in Santa Cruz IMC penned by Steve Pleich describes why California and Santa Cruz are uniquely suited to stand up to the pressure brought by the crisis-rocked private banking industry and create their own Public Banks. He writes, "[Public Banks] are a way, at long last, to manage money in the public interest."

Pleich continues:

"In point of fact, the reason that there aren’t more public banks around the country has nothing to do with any legal problems. ... Indeed, the lack of public banks in America has everything to do with political will and the resolve to stand up to the pressure brought to bear by the private banking industry. California, and so Santa Cruz, is uniquely suited to stand up to such pressure. The people of the state are increasingly determined to chart their own course independent of Wall Street and, where necessary, independent of the federal government. There has never been a better time for a city council and active citizens to push back against Wall Street lobbyists and implement a model of sound and ethical financial policy."

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International News: Ireland's Cabinet is set to discuss introducing a "game changer" Sparkassen type of Public Bank

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Sparkasse bank uses a bus as a mobile local branch. Photo courtesy The Journal.

 

The Irish publication The Journal reports that a proposal to introduce a Sparkassen type of Public Bank in the country will soon be discussed in the Cabinet. Government officials have completed their report. 

Labour TD Willie Penrose says, “The development of a network of regionally based public banks could be a game changer for small and medium enterprises, agribusiness and the regions.”

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Support builds in Santa Rosa for a Public Bank as a response to fires

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Photo courtesy Friends of Public Banking Santa Rosa

 

Santa Rosa Councilmember Jack Tibbetts endorsed the proposed resolution for a Public Bank of Santa Rosa as another city steps forward toward Public Banking. Last week Santa Rosa City Council had its public hearing for their 2018-2019 budget priorities. Most speakers spoke in support of Public Bank, seeing it as critical to addressing the community’s needs following the devastating fires. Friends of Public Banking Santa Rosa have posted the proposed resolution on their new website.

Endorse the resolution here.

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Philly should invest in Philly

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Photo by Eric Froehling

 

Nonprofit advisor Tivoni Devor writes in Generocity Philadelphia should invest their money locally in Philadelphia for the betterment of its citizens by leveraging the city’s enormous public deposits. He explains:

“Currently Philadelphia uses large commercial banks to handle its nearly $2 billion in payroll as well as $621.3 million in deposits and $1.8 billion in various investments. By putting this money in a public bank specifically chartered to loan money only to businesses, nonprofits and individuals in Philadelphia, we would be better suited to drive economic growth in the city.

[Read the full article]


How Seattle’s housing crisis could be solved with a Public Bank

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Photo courtesy Seattle PI

 

Activist Paul Alexander writes an articulate article in Medium that describes how Seattle’s emergency-level housing crisis can be directly and concretely addressed with a Public Bank, and why now is the time for grassroots activists to push their public officials.

Alexander explains that with a Public Bank, Seattle would be able to meet the needs demanded by advocacy groups. The city could also leverage a Public Bank’s power to help fund community land trusts and build public housing at dramatically lower costs, eliminating the issue private developers continually raise: that it’s not sufficiently profitable for private developers to build affordable housing. He writes:

“The right to housing must not wax and wane with the stock ticker. We must build institutions capable of holistically and comprehensively addressing our housing needs until there are no more impoverished citizens sleeping on Seattle’s streets, or devoting half their paychecks to the roofs over their heads —and we can start doing this right now.

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