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NY public banking

Demonstrators rally in support of public banking in New York City on June 5, 2018. (Photo: Dave Colon/Twitter)

150+ NY Groups Back Public Banking Bill to Declare 'Independence From Wall Street'

"From the South Bronx to Buffalo, New Yorkers will benefit from public financing services that will prioritize access, affordability, and growth, all while putting local dollars to work."

Brett Wilkins

Over 150 advocacy groups from across the Empire State Tuesday sent a letter to New York legislative leaders urging them to follow in the footsteps of places like North Dakota, Germany, and Costa Rica and pass legislation allowing the creation of public banks that would help "advance racial equity and ensure a just recovery for all New Yorkers."

"We need to divest from destructive Wall Street banks and invest in our communities!"

"Our organizations are fighting for public banks that have a clear mission to advance racial, economic, and environmental justice," the letter supporting the New York Public Banking Act states. "With these principles at their core, public banks would reinvest in New York's low-income and immigrant neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color, meeting critical community needs and strengthening our ability to withstand future crises."

"Wall Street banks have for decades blocked low-income people, immigrants, and people of color from mainstream banking," the letter continues, "relegating them to high-cost, predatory financial services that extract massive amounts of wealth from communities and perpetuate poverty and inequality."

"Public banks would partner with our state's numerous community-based lenders to deliver responsible financing and emergency funding to small and worker-owned businesses—including MWBEs—hardest hit by Covid-19," the authors write, referring to New York state's Minority- and Women- Owned Business Enterprise Program.

"They would invest in economic development initiatives that build, rather than extract, wealth, such as permanently affordable housing, community-controlled renewable energy, and more," they argue. "And they would expand access to high-quality, affordable banking services in New York's historically-redlined communities of color."

The letter continues:

Public banking is a proven model; it is common throughout the world, from Costa Rica to Germany. In the U.S., the Bank of North Dakota has successfully financed public projects and made responsible loans to small businesses, farmers, and others for more than a century. Recently, California enacted legislation to facilitate public banking at the local level. It's time for New York to take action and usher in democratic financial institutions that meet the needs of New York's communities, during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.

Voicing support for the proposed legislation, Democratic New York City Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán said in a statement that "it is time our city and state declared independence from Wall Street."

"As long as we bank with massive for-profit financial firms, we will be helping the rich get richer and the poor poorer, creating financial insecurity for unbanked and underbanked working-class New Yorkers, and reinforcing racist inequalities," she continued. "It is high time we adopted a public bank, to allow us to invest in key pillars of safe, stable families and neighborhoods, such as permanently affordable housing, community-controlled clean energy, vital infrastructure, worker-owned businesses, community-development credit unions, and more."

State Assemblymember Amanda Septimo (D-84) added that "as New York prepares to rebuild from the Covid-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to make way for financial infrastructure that will empower all New Yorkers across the state."

"Passing the New York Public Banking Act will open pathways for economic growth in everything from business to homeownership, and put underserved communities on the path to prosperity," she asserted. "From the South Bronx to Buffalo, New Yorkers will benefit from public financing services that will prioritize access, affordability, and growth, all while putting local dollars to work."


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