New Mexico Moves Forward on Public Banking

As our supporters know, the Public Banking Institute played an important role in organizing and presenting at the September 2014 Santa Fe conference, which spurred the Santa Fe City Council and Mayor Javier Gonzales to move forward on public banking in the city. We are happy to report that Santa Fe is one step closer to a public bank: on January 28, the City Council voted to approve a feasibility study for such a bank.

As the Santa Fe New Mexican reported before the feasibility study vote, the study would have five phases. The first would involve the creation of a consensus document with Santa Fe’s finance and economic development departments. The second would consist of meetings with collaborators, including the Santa Fe Community Foundation and area community banks. Phase three would be to develop alternative financing strategies to “test” against a public banking model. The fourth phase would be to develop risk-minimization techniques and address community concerns and objections to the bank. The final phase would be the engagement of New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center consulting department.

The minority of Council members voting against the feasibility study voiced concerns that the money spent could be used elsewhere--to finance homeless shelters, drug treatment centers, or other municipal services. Of course, in addition to the money having already been allocated for economic development, the larger issue is that the lack of funding for city services is precisely the problem that a public bank in Santa Fe would solve. When cities turn to public banks instead of big Wall Street banks to fund their services and infrastructure, much more money will be available for those services.

Nichoe Lichen of We Are People Here has a longer, more comprehensive view of budgetary concerns, telling “We are doing this to provide a more democratic, just, sustainable economy for Santa Fe, with dignity, respect and control by the people over their own lives.”

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