MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 1/11/2021

CONTACT: Mike Sandmel, mike@neweconomynyc.org

150 COMMUNITY AND LABOR GROUPS CALL ON ALBANY TO PASS NY PUBLIC BANKING ACT

As 2022 legislative session begins, groups unite to demand that Albany pave way for local public banks to ensure racial equity and a just recovery

New York, NY –  Today, 150 organizations from across New York State delivered a letter to state legislative leaders urging swift passage of the “New York Public Banking Act” (S1762A/A5782) to advance racial equity and ensure a just recovery for all New Yorkers.

The bill creates a safe and appropriate regulatory framework for New York cities, counties, and regions seeking to establish local public banks – financial institutions created by local governments and accountable to local residents. Public banks provide localities with a public option for government deposits, and leverage those dollars for investments in affordable housing, green jobs, equitable financial services, renewable energy, and other local needs.

The signatories to the letter reflect widespread and diverse support for public banking statewide and include community organizations, labor unions, housing groups, small business organizations, neighborhood-based financial institutions, civil rights groups, and more. The letter comes on the heels of a letter in support of the legislation from the entire Rochester City Council, as well as statements of support from numerous local elected officials in NYC and elsewhere around the state.

As local governments seek new ways to promote economic resilience and opportunity – particularly in communities hardest-hit by COVID-19 – the organizations say Albany must take action this legislative session to bring local public banking to New York.

Quotes:

“With so many groups from every corner of our state demanding that Albany pass the NY Public Banking Act this session, the pressure is on,” said Mike Sandmel, Campaign Organizer at New Economy Project. “From major unions and community groups to local chambers of commerce and community-based financial institutions, support for local public banks that will invest in low-income communities and communities of color is overwhelming. Now we need the Governor and the Legislature to stand with New Yorkers, not the big banks that want to keep profiting from our public money.”

“As New York works toward a just recovery and a more inclusive economy, public banking could be a critical tool for providing access to capital for low income neighborhoods,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. “Legislative action in Albany to authorize the creation of public banks will open the door to economic development initiatives that build community wealth and ownership.”

“Public banks offer a way to rebuild and prevent businesses, especially small businesses, from closing,” said NYS Senate Banks Committee Chair James Sanders Jr. “Public banks also benefit underserved communities who have been, and continue to be, denied financial resources due to redlining. It gives long-suffering communities the chance to thrive and gain relief from crippling debt. The New York Public Banking Act, would create the structural framework for municipalities to create public banks within its jurisdiction and allow the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to issue special-purpose public bank charters. It is time to serve the interest of the community, not just shareholders. It is time to advocate for a new normal that includes public banking.”

“For too long, the potential of New York’s underserved communities has been held back by a lack of financial opportunities,” said NYS Assembly Banks Committee Chair Patricia Fahy. “Many of their economic needs have gone unaddressed by global financial institutions. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues this legislative session to increase access to financial resources and to improve financial mobility for every New Yorker with my colleagues on the Assembly Banks Committee and Senator Sanders.”

“As New York prepares to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to make way for financial infrastructure that will empower all New Yorkers across the state. Passing the New York Public Banking Act will open pathways for economic growth in everything from business to homeownership, and put under-served communities on the path to prosperity,” said NYS Assemblymember Amanda Septimo. “From the South Bronx to Buffalo, New Yorkers will benefit from public financing services that will prioritize access, affordability, and growth, all while putting local dollars to work.

“Private banks have shown in every crisis that they are the first to cut and run at the sign of economic danger and the last to offer forgiveness or assistance to New York’s residents or businesses,” said NYS Assemblymember Emily Gallagher. “Capitalism’s need to justify a penny of investment with a dime of profit means private banks will never invest in the housing, green infrastructure, or future that we need unless it means New Yorkers are getting the short end of the stick. It’s high time that we end the racial, colonial, and ecological inequities that Wall Street is responsible for and create a People’s Bank of New York City today.”

“Why let big banks make money from our public funds? A Rochester Public Bank would keep our money local to increase quality of life in our community,” said Rochester City Councilmember Mary Lupien.

“It is time our city and state declared independence from Wall Street,” said New York City Councilmember Tiffany Cabán. “As long as we bank with massive for-profit financial firms, we will be helping the rich get richer and the poor poorer, creating financial insecurity for unbanked and underbanked working class New Yorkers, and reinforcing racist inequalities. It is high time we adopted a public bank, to allow us to invest in key pillars of safe, stable families and neighborhoods, such as permanently affordable housing, community-controlled clean energy, vital infrastructure, worker-owned businesses, community-development credit unions, and more.

“For far too long, our reliance on Wall Street has fueled the rise of deep inequities in our state,” said Hae-Lin Choi, Political Director, Communications Workers of America District One. “The creation of local public banks would be a critical step forward in New York State’s recovery from the COVID-19 economic crisis, allowing us to reinvest billions in communities, create affordable housing and support small businesses that provide living wages. New Yorkers need and deserve public institutions whose missions are centered around serving people first–rather than greedy corporations that only prioritize their own bottom line.”

“Right now, Albany has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: cities and counties have billions of dollars in federal funds to invest in our communities, and local public banks can make that money last for years to come,” said Michael Kink, Executive Director, Strong Economy for All Coalition. “Governor Hochul and legislators should take this opportunity and pass the NY Public Banking Act now.”

“During the pandemic, our credit union has been a lifeline for many of our members. We helped more than 500 small business owners apply for over $18 million in federal PPP loans, reaching very small and immigrant-owned businesses that the banks ignored. We restructured existing loans when our members lost jobs or needed more time to pay,” said Aissatou Barry-Fall, CEO of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union. “A public bank would partner with responsible lenders like ours to make more loans – and larger loans – than we could on our own; expand our services; and help create jobs and affordable housing in our communities.”

“Wall Street banks are designed to extract hard-earned wealth from our communities in order to make the idle rich even richer, and that was made all the more clear during the pandemic as they used instruments like predatory fees to drain even more resources from struggling families,” Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, said. “Instead of continuing to waste public funds by depositing them into parasitic big banks that fuel inequality and climate catastrophe in New York, we need our leaders in Albany to pass the New York Public Banking Act now so that those public funds can be used for the public good.”

“Worker co-operatives and small businesses are the heart of our communities, but Wall Street couldn’t care less,” said Gale Johnson, a Worker-owner of Hopewell Care Cooperative and NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives Advocacy Council Member. “As local businesses closed at alarming rates during the pandemic, Wall Street gave taxpayer funded loans to their preferred clients, instead of the businesses that needed it the most. Workplaces like mine that are owned by women, immigrants, and people of color need financial support to succeed and public banking is the best way to make that happen.”

“This bill is one of the most important economic strategies for New York State,” said Melissa Marquez, CEO of Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union in Rochester. “Community banks and all credit unions should not be afraid of municipal banking. They should embrace it, as it will enhance community development and increase lending in communities across NY that are most in need of investment where there is shared risk by local lenders and the municipal bank.”

“Public banks can make a unique contribution to community economic development, environmental sustainability, and effective local democracy,” said David Sprintzen of the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island.

“As we face an imminent climate crisis with direct ties to a health and economic crisis, we cannot repeat the same error of expecting Wall St. to act with justice and democracy.” said Kim Fraczek, Director, Sane Energy Project. “We must ensure that the people can have access to our own fate by passing the New York Public Banking Act. A New York City Public Bank that would put the people first is critical to support our democracy.”

“Cooper Square Committee supports the creation of a public bank. We’ve seen banks repeatedly fund bad-acting landlords. A public bank could fund community land trusts and other housing that stabilizes neighborhoods rather than displacing families,” said Jodie Leidecker, Cooper Square Committee.

“We need the New York Public Banking Act now to help communities invest in local needs like affordable housing and locally-owned small businesses, said Jim Dukette, HOPP Anchor Partner Program Manager at Empire Justice Center.”

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