Jul 12, 2018.

Voters in Los Angeles will be the first in the country to choose whether to set up their city’s own Public Bank that has a mandate to serve the people, instead of private interests. The City Council voted June 29th to put a measure on the November ballot that would allow the city to form its own bank. LA’s charter currently prohibits the creation of industrial or commercial enterprises by the city without voter approval.

PBI Chair Ellen Brown writes in her latest article:

The [Los Angeles] bank is expected to save the city millions, if not billions, of dollars in Wall Street fees and interest paid to bondholders, while injecting new money into the local economy, generating jobs and expanding the tax base. It could respond to the needs of its residents by reinvesting in low-income housing, critical infrastructure projects, and clean energy, as well as serving as a depository for the cannabis industry.”

The push for Public Banks is also moving forward at the state level, as Fiona Ma, who is currently State Board of Equalization Member and running for state treasurer, says California cannot wait on the Fed or the federal government to change their positions on the cannabis cash issue.

Ellen describes the bill introduced by Ma and State Sen. Bob Hertzberg — Senate Bill 930 — as “a pretty revolutionary idea. …”

“ … a closed-loop California banking system that is independent of the Federal Reserve and the federal system. SB 930 would bypass the Feds only for cannabis cash, and the bill strictly limits what the checks issued by these “pot banks” can be used for. But the prospects it opens up are interesting. California is now the fifth largest economy in the world, with 39 million people. It has the resources for its own cashless ‘CalPay’ or ‘CalCoin’ system that could bypass the federal system altogether.”

Ellen continues:

“It is significant that the proposal for a closed-loop California system is not coming from academics without political clout. Fiona Ma is slated to become state treasurer, having won the primary election in June by a landslide; and the current state treasurer John Chiang has been exploring the possibility of a public bank that could take cannabis cash for over a year. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the front runner for governor, has also called for the creation of a public bank. These are not armchair theoreticians but the people who make political decisions for the state, and they have substantial popular support.

Cities and states are seeking ways to better leverage taxpayer dollars and reinvest them in the needs of local communities. Public banking serves that purpose, providing local determination and the opportunity for socially and environmentally responsible lending and investments. The City Council of Los Angeles is now taking it to the voters; and where California goes, the nation may well follow.

[Read the full article]