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.