At its final meeting of the year on 16 December 2019, the Bellingham City Council’s Committee of the Whole agreed unanimously to create a resolution in support of public banking in Washington state. After a presentation (video here) on the topic by state Senator Bob Hasegawa of Seattle’s 11th District, and a round of questions and answers, the council moved to have staff create a draft resolution outlining support of a public bank and the advantages to the city by having such a bank at the state level. The draft will be taken up by the City Council in 2020 with two new council members, at least one of whom, Lisa Anderson (Ward 5), has already signaled her support for the concept of public banking.
Sen Hasegawa appeared in Whatcom County three times in 2019 (Bellingham City Council, Whatcom County Council, and the Bellingham City Club) to inform the governments and the public of the tremendous benefits that accrue from having a public bank. One of those benefits is returning earnings on government held monies back to the cities, counties, and states rather than into the coffers of private bankers. Public banks also allow public monies to be leveraged, as is done in commercial banking, but with public banking it is leveraged for the good of the people and common projects such as transportation, infrastructure, schools, low income housing and the like.
It has only been two years, a relatively short time in legislative terms, since I brought the idea of public banking to council member Michael Lilliquist who was skeptical at first but later embraced the idea. Upon the appointment of Hannah Stone to fill the vacancy in the at-large position, I spoke to her about public banks and suggested inviting Sen Hasegawa to discuss public banking in Washington state and his decade-long campaign to have a bill authorizing such a bank. Ms Stone, then on the council’s finance committee, was helpful in the process of arranging Sen Hasegawa’s appearance before the council.
Stay tuned for more on public banking and Bellingham City Council’s efforts to support a public banking bill in Olympia.