FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 5/10/2022
CONTACT: Mike Sandmel, email@example.com
Community and Labor Groups, Legislators Rally at Capitol for Passage of “New York Public Banking Act” to Advance Racial Equity and a Just Recovery
Coalition of New Yorkers From Across the State Traveled to Albany to Demand Action on Public Banking This Legislative Session
Albany, NY – Today, community and labor groups from across the state rallied with legislators on the “Million Dollar Staircase” at the New York State Capitol Building, urging swift passage of the “New York Public Banking Act” (S1762B/A8290) this legislative session.
The bill, sponsored by 30 Senators and nearly 60 Assemblymembers, 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 localities to leverage public funds to spur investment in small and worker-owned businesses, permanently-affordable housing, green energy, and more.
An array of speakers, including a leader of a community credit union in Rochester and a representative of New York City’s largest public sector union, described how public banks would partner with community development financial institutions to expand banking services and deepen investment in historically-redlined neighborhoods. Through public banking, the speakers added, local governments can generate billions of dollars in new economic activity and create tens of thousands of jobs in the process.
The rally comes on the heels of a letter from 80+ local elected officials statewide – including more than two-thirds of the New York City Council and the entirety of the Rochester City Council – urging the Governor and legislative leaders to enact the bill into law.
In light of the broad and growing support, advocates stressed that Albany must act before the session ends to provide a robust framework and consistent statewide guidance to local governments seeking to establish public banks.
“Public banking is a common-sense idea with broad statewide support from local financial institutions, small businesses, community-based organizations, climate groups, labor unions, local elected officials, and many others,” said Mike Sandmel, Senior Campaign Organizer at New Economy Project. “New Yorkers are ready to get to work building local public banks that will drive equitable economic development in Black and brown communities. They just need Albany to put the framework in place so they can get started.”
“A municipal public bank is a financial institution that works for the public benefit of the community. A municipal public bank could: fund local infrastructure, affordable housing, environmental and other projects at a reduced cost; generate revenue for local governments to hold the line on taxes; provide access to credit for small businesses and MWBEs; and provide financial assistance to farmers,” said NYS Senate Banks Chair James Sanders Jr. “A public bank is a tool for local governments to promote prosperity, jobs, health, and equity in their communities.”
“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 NYS Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris.
“Authorizing public banks presents an extraordinary opportunity to create publicly owned and mission-driven financial institutions that invest in our communities and uphold worker, climate, and housing justice,” said NYS Assemblymember Fred W. Thiele, Jr. “I urge my colleagues in the Legislature to support The New York Public Banking Act and advance our economic recovery.”
“The New York public banking act will help bring wealth into the communities that have been historically divested from,” said NYS Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages. “This vital piece of legislation will allow those with little to no credit to access loans, and create capital for investment in underserved communities. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to fight for public banking in New York State.”
“Wall Street and the private financial industry have been unwilling to finance the investments in green jobs and renewable energy that our state desperately needs,” said NYS Assemblymember Emily Gallagher. “To the contrary, they continue to lend to fossil fuel companies responsible for bringing our planet to the brink of untenable environmental collapse. We need the New York Public Banking Act today to charter public banks that recognize in their charter the need for dramatic investments in green jobs and infrastructure that will transform our economy and end our state’s perilous reliance on fossil fuels. Not only will Wall Street not save us; they’re profiting off our demise.”
“The New York Public Banking Act will give cities and counties the option to create public banks owned by and accountable to the people,” said NYS Assemblymember Anna Kelles. “Passing this bill will give us a framework so municipalities can do the right thing and invest in each other and in the future of our communities.”
“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 welcome public banking for localities. They should embrace it. Our business community and local economic development initiatives will benefit from the New York Public Banking Act. Municipal dollars will increase local lending and access to capital in communities across NY, especially for creative initiatives and solutions, where local lending has been lacking. A local public bank can be the best partner with local institutions for projects that will advance permanently affordable housing, climate solutions and lending to worker coops.”
“Now is the time for the New York State legislature to demonstrate courage and the political will to pass NY Public Banking Act, that would help working-class communities address and fight back the toxic economic inequalities; toxic housing inequalities; toxic environmental inequalities plaguing Working-Class communities throughout New York State,” said Albert Scott of the East New York Community Land Trust.