SB5509, An Act Relating to the creation of the Washington state public infrastructure bank, will have to be brought back in 2024 when its chances of completing the legislative slalom might be better. Priorities at the beginning of biennial legislative gatherings are usually those necessary to implement the budget. Unfortunately, this bill, which could have immensely beneficial impacts for the budget, did not fall into the proper category to move forward in a crowded field of legislation.
Proponents of the public infrastructure bank are sure to use the remainder of 2022 to inform the public, local governments, and the tribes of the benefits of public banking. This year, nearly 150 individuals and organizations signed in to the bill's information page, indicating their support of SB5509. Notably, at the top of the list is the Association of Washington Cities which indicates that municipalities are beginning to appreciate the potential benefits of public banks. To wit:
Association of Washington Cities
City of Bellevue
City of Mercer Island
IBEW 46 ( Electricians Union)
IUOE Local 612
Lake City Taskforce on Homelessness
League of Women Voters of WA Olympia 98501
Port of Everett
Public Banking Institute
Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action
SMART Transp. Division/United Transportation Union
Snohomish & Island Labor Council
Transit Riders Union
WA Build Back Black Alliance - (WBBA)
Washington Education Association
Washington State Association of County Engineers
Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Washingtonians for Public Banking
Whatcom County Democrats
The sad irony about SB5509 is that Seattle just passed a housing initiative (I-135) for which they are now scrambling to find financing…and at what cost? Public banks are set up to assist in financing exactly this type of initiative, but for the last decade our legislators in Olympia have stalled and voted NO on creating a public bank. Public banks are an ideal construct to assist or partner with community banks that can then work with local developers and municipalities.
In the coming months, there will be no shortage of opportunities for the public to speak its mind regarding public banking. Keep an eye on this space for further articles that will describe specific actions you can take to boost the chance of a public banking bill passing in 2024.
For those of you who need a primer on the proven record of public banking, I suggest reviewing the Public Banking Institute site. The link below will provide some background on the present state of SB5509.