By Nick Reisman
Advocates on Tuesday began another push to approve a measure creating a regulatory system for public banks in New York state in order to bring more financial institutions to underserved communities.
The measure would end the requirement in state law that public banks must apply for commercial charters, and allow local governments to establish public banks that provide government deposits to be used for affordable housing, financial services and green jobs investment.
“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, a 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.”
California has similar regulations in place for public banks.
More than 150 organizations, in a letter to top lawmakers in the state Senate and Assembly on Tuesday, released a letter urging the passage of the measure. A push for the bill in prior legislative session was unsuccessful.
The bill is also backed by the Rochester City Council, and supporters point to the proposal as a way of helping communities recover financially from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Public banks offer a way to rebuild and prevent businesses, especially small businesses, from closing,” said Sen. James Sanders, the measure’s sponsor in the state Senate. “Public banks also benefit underserved communities who have been, and continue to be, denied financial resources due to redlining.”