FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 2/7/2023
CONTACT: Andy Morrison, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Yorkers Rally at Capitol for Public Banking in This Year’s Budget
Community/Labor coalition, legislators call for enactment of the
“New York Public Banking Act” to advance racial and economic justice
Albany, NY – Today, dozens of New Yorkers from across the state rallied with legislators at the New York State Capitol Building, urging swift passage of the “New York Public Banking Act” (S1754/A3352) this legislative session.
The bill, sponsored by Senate Banks Committee Chair James Sanders Jr. and Assembly Banks Committee Chair Pamela J. Hunter, creates a safe and appropriate regulatory framework for public banking – paving the way for cities and counties to establish accountable financial institutions that will invest in local needs.
Public banks, supporters explained, would serve as a public option for government deposits, enabling cities and counties to leverage public funds to spur investment in permanently affordable housing, green energy, small and worker-owned businesses, and more.
At the rally, which was organized by the NYS Community Equity Agenda and Public Bank NYC coalitions, speakers described how public banks would partner with community development financial institutions to expand banking services and deepen investment in historically-redlined Black and brown neighborhoods. Public banks, they added, would serve as a powerful tool to help New York meet its ambitious housing and climate goals, by channeling needed capital to nonprofit housing developers and financing green infrastructure and sustainable development.
Dozens of state legislators and more than 150 community and labor groups from across the state support the New York Public Banking Act. In light of the broad and growing support, advocates demanded that the Governor and Legislature enact the bill this session to address persistent banking inequality in New York.
“By enacting the New York Public Banking Act as part of this year’s budget, we can address the twin crises of housing unaffordability and climate chaos, in ways that promote community ownership and a just transition in frontline communities,” said Tousif Ahsan of New Economy Project, which coordinates the NYS Community Equity Agenda and Public Bank NYC coalitions. “Public banking is a transformative solution that will enable local governments to divest public dollars from banks that harm New Yorkers and New York communities, and reinvest in low-income, Black, brown, and immigrant neighborhoods.”
“The mission of a public bank is to serve the public interest. With public banks, we can ensure that taxpayer’s money will be used more cost effectively in financing public infrastructure projects, equitable economic development and job creation, small businesses, expanding homeownership, and other public priorities. It is time for New York to pass the New York Public Banking Act,” said Senator James Sanders Jr.
“Public banking opens new opportunities for financial security to more New Yorkers and it’s time we give localities the opportunity to help residents in this important way,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris.
“We need bold, local action to create an equitable economy and advance racial and economic justice. Establishing public banks is a significant step in that direction, allowing us to overcome the various challenges we face, from the lack of affordable housing to bank redlining,” said Senator Robert Jackson. “It’s time to help democratize the economy of New York and usher in democratic financial institutions, empowering citizens and communities to engage with the economy on their terms, transforming their local economies for the better.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed further disparities in underserved communities, including my Bronx district. Having a public bank would greatly benefit all communities across the state and help support local economic projects, such as creating jobs and expanding access to affordable housing,” said Assemblymember Kenny Burgos. “I am proud to support the New York Public Banking Act and look forward to helping make its passage a reality.”
“Public banks are created by local governments and accountable to the people, allowing them to utilize public money for the public good. Public banking can be a bold step to help us meet our climate goals, allowing us to divest public money from large banks that profit off the fossil fuel industry and redirect the money to public banks to invest in sustainable community projects,” said Assemblymember Anna Kelles. “Through public banking, local governments can leverage their resources to support cooperative and community-led development such as community solar projects or renovation of old buildings. We need to pass the New York Public Banking Act and begin to invest in community-based climate solutions.”
“When banks fail to invest equitably in areas like the South Bronx, our community members must travel across town to reach the closest branch or wait on line in freezing weather to use the ATM. There is a high-demand for banking services in the Bronx, yet we haven’t seen banks try meaningfully to meet that demand, even during critical times like the pandemic,” said Assemblymember Amanda Septimo. “Why should we continue to wait for private banks to decide if our communities are worth it or not? Let the people own their hard-earned money and make it work for them and their communities, through public banking.”
“New York’s immigrant families have long struggled with a private banking system that denies them the access they deserve, blocking them from the tools that everyone needs to build a successful, financially stable life,” says Liza Schwartzwald, Senior Manager of Economic Justice and Family Empowerment at the New York Immigration Coalition. “Predatory banking services, historic redlining, and exploitative financial penalties for low-income families keep many immigrant families from the economic mobility that the formal banking system should ensure. Passing the New York Public Banking Act would be an important step towards creating a local public banking institution in New York City that would invest its profits back into the communities it serves, increase transparency for local banking practices, and ensure that all New Yorkers can access fair banking services.”