Photo Caption: CA AB857 press conferences in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Mar 14, 2019.

In dual press conferences Monday in Los Angeles and San Francisco, California legislators announced the introduction of AB857, a bill that would enable cities and regions to charter their own public banks and create a public banking network in the state.

The announcement was made by California Assemblymen Miguel Santiago and David Chiu. In L.A., Santiago was flanked by L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson and dozens of advocates from the California Public Banking Alliance. PBI Chair Ellen Brown also joined in the fanfare.

Santiago explained the need for change:

“If there was ever a time to discuss how to use finances for the public good, this is it and this is now. Private corporations are not meant to do the business of public good which is why we need a public bank. [A public bank can] determine how to use our revenues in a way that is leveraged for the public good — [good that’s] determined by the citizens rather than some millionaire or billionaire.”

While the bill if passed will not actually create public banks, it will facilitate their creation by local governments. Full text of the bill is expected to be online by the end of the week, since amendments are still being processed.

The presenters repeatedly spoke to the tireless work of devoted advocates that brought this bill into being.

Organizer Trinity Tran with CPBA and Public Bank LA introduced the day’s purpose: “California is the fifth largest economy in the world and it’s time for us to take our money back. The answer for Wall Street exploitation is here.”

Watch the LA press conference here (Facebook link).

Co-sponsor Chiu said in San Francisco, “We are here because Wall Street banks have failed us. … The public’s money needs to be used for public good. And it is time that our money is taken back and used for good.”

Watch the SF press conference here (Facebook link).

In a written statement reported in the Sacramento Bee, Chiu said that publicly owned banks would allow Californians to invest in institutions that fit California values:

“Time and time again, we have seen big banks invest our money in institutions most Californians are opposed to — oil pipelines, gun manufacturers, private prisons, and companies with unfair labor practices. This legislation allows us to take a first step towards ensuring the public’s money is used for public good.”

Wesson declared his support for the bill and predicted this change will sweep the whole country:

“Today we reject the idea that only one form of banking should exist. Today we reject the idea that there is no alternative to conventional banking. Today we reject the idea of supporting banks that ensure only a small percentage of people succeed, not the majority of people, not just in this city this state but throughout this country. Winds blow from the west to the east: it’s time to stand up and send a message to the rest of this country: We are going to vet this and, in California, we’re going to get this done.”

[Read the full Sacramento Bee article here]

[More coverage here: SCV News, San Francisco Examiner, Sacramento Business Journal, SF Weekly]