AB 857 needs more support, so we ask our California alliance members to visit the California Public Banking Alliance homepage and scroll down to Sign the Petition, Send a Letter to Your Representative, or Sign an Organization Endorsement Form. Want to know more? You can access a factsheet here.
There are still hurdles as Wall Street banks and the US Chamber of Commerce increase efforts to defeat the bill. Because AB 857 was amended in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, if it gets through Senate Appropriations and passes on the Senate floor, it was go back to the Assembly floor for a concurrence vote.
Alliance Co-chair Nancy Price has been among CA Public Banking Alliance campaigners meeting with committee members over the past months. As she says, “The combined efforts of Coalition members and endorsers of this bill, as well as calls to the legislature and committee members and in-district visits have led to success to date. There’s more to do to get AB 857 to the Governor’s desk and signed into law which would give a huge push to Alliance sponsored campaigns in Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington DC.
Basically AB 857 provides for a city or county, or a Joint Powers Authority, a combination of cities and counties together in a large geographic area, to apply to the state for a charter to establish a public bank. Already groups are working on city or county bank organizing in many parts of the state. A related Senate bill could set up a state public bank by changing the state’s revolving infrastructure loan program to a depository bank.
The California effort is part of a constantly growing movement for public banking, with Alliance-affiliated campaigns active in Oregon, Washington DC, and Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, H935/S579, which creates a public bank to fund municipal infrastructure projects, had its first hearing before the legislature’s Joint Committee on Financial Services in late May. Advocates for the bank explained how it would work, the difference between a bank and a revolving loan fund, and the low risk in making these types of loans.
Alliance national campaigns coordinator Barbara Clancy told the committee that the bank builds on recent advocacy, including a push to divest Boston pension funds from fossil fuels and corporations involved in the prison industry, and to move $250 million of the state’s pension’s operating funds to impact investments and local banks. “We have the need, expertise and values to be one of the first states to successfully establish a public bank… a model of public finance which is flexible, cost-effective, and rooted in the community-minded values of voters,” she said.
The Spring 2014 issue of Justice Rising focused on Public Banking: Creating Jobs, Building Communities. You can read it online here, or request printed copies by contacting email@example.com or calling 978-333-7971.