FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 4/18/2022
80+ LOCAL ELECTEDS FROM ACROSS NEW YORK CALL ON ALBANY TO ENACT "NY PUBLIC BANKING ACT" THIS SESSION
As the State Legislature prepares to reconvene, 82 local elected officials from 19 NYS cities and counties call for action on local public banks to ensure racial equity and a just recovery.
NEW YORK, NY – Today, 82 local elected officials from 19 cities and counties across New York State delivered a letter to Governor Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Heastie, urging enactment of the “New York Public Banking Act” (S1762A/A5782) before the end of this year’s legislative session in early June.
The move reflects rapidly growing statewide enthusiasm for creating local public banks – financial institutions created by local governments and accountable to local residents. In the letter, lawmakers urged Albany to give “local governments a powerful new tool to spur truly inclusive local economic development and help address long-standing inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated and exacerbated.”
Public banks would provide localities with a sorely needed public option for government deposits, enabling cities and counties to leverage those dollars for investments in affordable housing, green jobs, equitable financial services, renewable energy, and other local needs.
Signatories to the letter collectively represent millions of New Yorkers and include the NYC Comptroller and Public Advocate, four NYC Borough Presidents, a large majority of the New York City Council, the entirety of the Rochester City Council, The Albany City Treasurer and Chief City Auditor, the Chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, the Mayors of Kingston, North Tonawanda, and Croton-on-Hudson, and a wide range of other County Legislators and City Council Members from all corners of the State.
This coalition of local leaders urged Albany to take timely action this session, writing, “Through public banking, we can stretch [recently appropriated federal] stimulus funds much further by leveraging capital and making responsible loans, creating a virtuous cycle of equitable economic development in our communities for years and even decades to come.”
These local leaders are not alone in their support for the bill, which would make New York the second state in the country, after California, to create a regulatory framework for local public banks. More than 150 community and labor groups have backed the bill, which has also been co-sponsored by 85 State Senators and Assemblymembers.
“Public banking offers a path to providing access to capital that low income neighborhoods need for a just and inclusive economic recovery,” said New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. “Albany can and should take action now to open the door to economic development initiatives that help build community wealth and equity by passing legislation to authorize the creation of public banks.”
“I am in support of the NY Public Banking Act because it helps foster a banking system that can truly serve who it is meant to serve – the public,” said Christopher A. Johnson, Majority Leader of the Westchester County Legislature. “New Yorkers deserve a banking system that is equitable and inclusive – one that is a catalyst to local economic development and meets the needs of the community. I look forward to joining states around the world who use a public banking model to put communities first.”
“By partnering with local community banks and credit unions, public banks will expand access to banking services in underserved and under-banked neighborhoods while also identifying the needs of the communities that they serve,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “The passing of the NY Public Banking Act would afford local governments the tools to address equitable economic development as we recover from the damage of the COVID-19 pandemic, and would create a long-term commitment to providing lower-income residents and small businesses with financial services to improve their lives. I am proud to join my colleagues in supporting this important piece of legislation.”
“Public banks are meant to serve the public’s interest and have the ability to propel inclusive, equitable economic development in our communities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Our private banks, on the other hand, do not serve the general public, and with little transparency and accountability, local governments hold no true regulation over them. This proposed legislation will help circumvent these limitations and allow the creation of public banks that will further help uplift communities facing inequities and other disparities.”
“Public banking will provide access to capital for underserved and overlooked communities, and we need it to help drive an equitable recovery for all New Yorkers,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “A public bank will be a huge asset to New York’s community development efforts, and will help small businesses, first-time homeowners, the underbanked, and our local credit unions better utilize public dollars for the public good. It’s time to pass the Public Banking Act and create a better New York for all.”
“In the wake of the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19, we need to be vigorous and creative in doing everything we can to address the economic, housing, and social needs of our communities, especially those that have been underserved by traditional financial institutions,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “The creation of public banks would help boost our local economies and address the persistent inequalities that prevent too many people in Queens and across New York State from fully benefiting from the fruits of their labor. I urge the Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign the New York Public Banking Act, which would give us an innovative new resource to help foster prosperity for everyone in our great state.”
“Instead of our City deposits sitting in Wall Street banks, a Rochester Public Bank would allow us to invest that money in our community and generate more revenue from the interest,” said Rochester City Council Member Mary Lupien. “My colleagues and I stand 100% united in asking Albany lawmakers to take the simple step of passing the NY Public Banking Act this session and providing a pathway for us to move toward this exciting prospect for our City.”
“The NY Public Banking Act provides critical improvements to the way communities can manage wealth and investment by keeping capital local and directing investments into community cooperatives and public projects in pursuit of long-term economic health, thereby democratizing our local economies,” said Poughkeepsie Common Council Member Sarah Salem. “Additionally, the act guarantees lending actions will benefit the public good in perpetuity based on cooperation, racial, economic, and gender justice, and ecological sustainability. I urge state officials to adopt this piece of legislation as it allows local municipalities to advance racial equity and ensure a just recovery and future for all New Yorkers.”
“Public banking would help address long-standing racial and economic inequalities while giving municipalities greater flexibility to address the wide range of housing, infrastructure, and other challenges we regularly tackle,” said Ithaca City Alderperson Ducson Nguyen.
“As we work toward a just pandemic recovery, we need strong institutions to ensure New Yorkers receive the equitable futures they deserve. The New York Public Banking act would facilitate critical investments in local economic development, building upon our capacity to withstand future crises,” said New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera. “I am proud to stand alongside elected leaders throughout New York State in calling on Governor Hochul, Speaker Heastie, and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins to support public banking and commit to reinvesting in our communities, strengthening our economy, and advancing racial, environmental, and economic justice.”
“The last few years of global turbulence have shown us the importance of local economic resilience. Public banking would open up big windows of opportunity for small cities like Beacon, enabling us to invest in much-needed affordable housing and to attract good-paying local jobs,” said Dan Aymar-Blair, Beacon City Council Member.
“Public banking is banking in the interests of citizens, and this legislation would pave the way for financial institutions that serve underbanked communities like the one I represent in Rochester,” said Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart.
“As the city envisions new ways to rebuild our economy in the aftermath of COVID-19, this is an opportune moment to examine the benefits of a public banking system,” said New York City Council Member Keith Powers. “This type of financial infrastructure would offer more banking opportunities in underserved areas, fund public needs, reduce city costs, and more. I’m proud to support this effort and look forward to seeing it implemented across New York.”
“Public banking addresses the disinvestment that cities such as Rochester have felt for decades,” said Rochester City Council Member Kim Smith. “A Public Bank would be a source of community investment for residents, families and small businesses.”
“Long before the financial crisis of 2008, we knew that the banking system was failing our city and state. Multinational banks have long been permitted to operate in our communities and charge interest and fees above and beyond New York State’s own usury laws. To add insult to injury, these same banks are now leaving our district with no regard for how branch closures will affect our neighbors,” said New York City Council Member Alexa Avilés. “It is clear that the sole purpose of this banking system is to sap wealth from our neighbors. We need to ensure that the public’s money works for the public good. The creation of a public banking system in New York State will not only put money back into the pockets of our neighbors, but will allow for us to work towards the collective goals of creating affordable housing, establishing a green and sustainable economy, and investing in truly local businesses.”
“Publicly-owned banks are legally obligated to operate in the interest of the public, the community, whereas a private bank is obligated to maximize profits for shareholders,” said Monroe County Legislator Susan Hughes-Smith. “The benefits to having a public bank may include the ability of municipalities to access loans with lower interest rates and fewer fees. In addition, the profits stay in the community which would be a tremendous asset to Monroe County.“
“There is no reason we should keep banking with the massive Wall Street firms that we continually discover have ripped off and discriminated against everyday New Yorkers, and which continue to bankroll destructive industries like fossil fuels and gun manufacturing – especially when we could form a public bank that is accountable to our communities, our environment, and our principles of fairness and transparency,” said New York City Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “In the interest of economic, racial, and climate justice, the time is now to support public banking in New York State.”
“Public banks ensure inclusive economic development and benefit communities who have historically suffered racial and economic inequality and have been deprived of financial resources,” said Newburgh City Council Member Giselle Martinez.