In Pennsylvania, Something's Always Going On with Public Banking

With new news of public banking advances in different states and cities coming almost weekly, it's easy to lose sight of ongoing progress in Pennsylvania, where the very first Public Banking Institute conference took place in 2012, and where public banking advocacy is constantly happening throughout the state. But according to Mike Krauss, Pennsylvania, and specifically Philadelphia, continues to be a nexus for the public banking movement.

According to Krauss, chair of the Pennsylvania Public Bank Project, a public bank has taken a new step towards realization in the city of Philadelphia. At a large public meeting last week, City Council member Wilson Goode, and candidate for Council Sherrie Cohen, made a presentation advocating a Philadelphia public bank initiative. Subsequently, Councilwoman-at-large Blondel Reynolds Brown indicated her support, while other Council members indicated interest.

Last year, Pennsylvania Project adviser John Hemington Jr. reported that public banking efforts were emerging in several places throughout the state: "Initiatives for public banks have or will be proposed in Philadelphia, Reading, Luzerne County and Pittsburgh, and more are popping up around the commonwealth and the nation as people learn just how effective these banks can be for local and county governments and their residents."

In Reading, as reported by Abby Sher at the beginning of the year, a forward-thinking Mayor, Vaughn Spencer, has a number of projects in mind, and a public bank is a cornerstone of that agenda:

This localist agenda is part of Mayor Spencer’s ambitious program to create a fairer and more sustainable local economy whose businesses stay put and where money spends more time circulating locally among networked enterprises. His administration is promoting worker cooperatives, energy efficiency, public banking, a local “food shed” and urban agriculture, remunicipalization of jobs (like the Socialists before them), and creating new jobs by reclaiming the city’s waste. No other current city administration in the United States, to my knowledge, is embracing such a broad range of “solidarity economy” strategies (although Spencer himself doesn’t use that specific term) to promote the well-being of its residents. And few other city administrations also face such steep challenges.

An important tool in the Pennsylvania coalition's toolbox has been a well-assembled document put together by the Pennsylvania Public Bank Project and Hub Public Banking (of Boston)--a document entitled "Benefits for Cities and Municipalities of a Public Bank." It's available for download here.

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