Topic: Planning & Development (327)

Public Banking Bill Introduced In Olympia

Public funds belong to all the residents of Washington state. Why give that money to private banks so they can make a fortune for themselves?

Public funds belong to all the residents of Washington state. Why give that money to private banks so they can make a fortune for themselves?

On January 27th, Senator Patty Kuderer (D) of the 48th Legislative District introduced public banking bill SB 5509 to create a Washington state public infrastructure bank. Last year, a similar bill was close to being passed by the legislature but the bill “timed out” as the legislative session ended without final action. The bill faces its first test at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Business, Financial Services, Gaming & Trade to be held at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, January 31st.  

From the bill:

"The legislature finds that a Washington state public infrastructure bank would provide opportunities for local and tribal government entities to competitively finance a broad array of public infrastructure and economic development projects, including housing, at competitive rates with low administrative costs. A state public infrastructure bank will complement the existing banking system by filling gaps that the system cannot or will not fill, and it will be uniquely positioned to provide specialized technical assistance to the diverse needs of local and tribal government entities.

Previous bills to create a public bank in the state were introduced by Sen. Bob Hasegawa, who is now a sponsor of the current bill. You can trace some of the recent history of public banking legislation in Washington state through my articles at this link. Creation of a public bank has repeatedly been thwarted by elements of the banking industry and, surprisingly, by some elected and appointed government officials whose constituents would gain the most from public banking.

This from the Public Banking Institute:

"It’s a very simple idea at its core. We all know private banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America operate to maximize profits for their shareholders, owners, and executives — no matter what crisis communities are facing. (In fact, as we saw in 2008, big banks’ practices have frequently caused economic crises.)

"Publicly-owned banks, on the other hand, are legally obligated to operate in the interest of the public, meaning the community as a whole. That means their investment decisions are focused on growing the real, wealth-producing local economy, not the latest speculative scheme to boost private shareholder profits and executive bonuses."

There is abundant material on the site of the Public Banking Institute that is very informative and easy to understand.   Note that public banks are established for the use of government entities and not individuals.  We do need banks for the people, such as postal banks, that offer checking and savings options that do not rob the depositors through low interest accounts and exorbitant fees.  Read more about postal banking in the US here.

For those who want to follow and support our current state legislation, SB 5509, you can navigate to the bill's site here. There you can sign up to receive email notices regarding the progress of the bill and the scheduling of hearings. You can comment on the bill and indicate your support at this link. Contacting your local city, county, and state representatives and executives is of great importance. Local governments have much to gain from public banking.  

Remember, it's our money to use, not the profiteering banks.

[Disclaimer:  I am on the board of the non-profit Washingtonians for Public Banking and I speak here only for myself.]

About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Comments by Readers

Satpal Sidhu

Jan 28, 2023

 I fully support this continued effort to develop a Public Bank in our state.  Satpal Sidhu 


Shawn Alexander

Jan 31, 2023

I support a public banking option as well. There are many advantages for the public when more options in banking are available in the market and will benefit consumers, not bank shareholders. People would still be able to support a commercial bank or a non-profit credit union, if they choose. 

Shawn Alexander


Michael Chiavario

Jan 31, 2023

Thanks for this, dick.


Dick Conoboy

Jan 31, 2023


Thanks for your support which you iniitally expressed several years ago when we first met on this topic. At the hearing on the bill today only one person spoke against the measure.  The rep from the Association of Washington Cities  spoke in favor of the legislation.  No county level groups spoke although they may have been in attendance.  Anything you can do in your position of County Executive to convince other County Executives and County Treasurers of the importance of public banking would be most appreciated. 


Dianne Foster

Mar 03, 2023


We should also thank Stoney Bird for his persistence on this issue.   Donating to his GoFundMe would express gratitude.

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