The bad news was that their bill, which would have created a public bank for municipal infrastructure projects, didn’t make it out of committee. The good news is that the bill’s House and Senate sponsors are eager to refile it in 2021.
More good news: the project’s advisory committee has grown, with the addition of expertise on community organizing and urban planning, and a new co-chair, Alliance for Democracy vice co-chair Ruth Caplan, formerly a coordinator for the DC Public Banking Center. Ruth was the editor of our Spring 2014 issue of Justice Rising, focusing on public banking and the role these banks play in protecting local economies. (link) Ruth relocated from Washington DC to Boston over the winter, and for someone with her experience working on democratizing finance, getting involved with the state’s public banking campaign was a given.
The group’s legislation is designed to establish a public bank, owned by the state and operated by independent professionals, which would make loans to municipalities for infrastructure projects, at lower cost and with less paperwork than private banks. The bill defines infrastructure broadly, to include community-enhancing projects like recreation and senior centers, bike paths and sidewalks, purchase of agricultural land, and projects designed to increase resiliency to climate change. You can read the text here.
In building for the next legislative session, the group will redouble its outreach efforts, both to mayors and town managers, who can be advocates for the bill, and to Massachusetts voters, to encourage their legislators to cosponsor, and to help get public banking advocates and local officials sitting down together and sharing information on needs and a financing solution that sidesteps Wall Street to put public money at work for the public good.