FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 5/2/2023
CONTACT: Andy Morrison, firstname.lastname@example.org
Groups, Electeds Hold Press Conference at NYS Capitol Calling for Enactment of New York Public Banking Act
New Yorkers demand that Albany stand with low-income, Black, brown, and immigrant communities – not big banks.
Albany, NY – As the NYS Legislature turns its attention to its post-budget priorities, community and labor groups called on Albany lawmakers to enact 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 local public banking.
At the event, which was organized by the NYS Community Equity Agenda and Public Bank NYC coalitions, advocates and state legislators pointed to recent failures of commercial banks and ongoing turmoil in the financial sector as a prime reason New York must clear the way for public banking. A majority of the NYS Senate and more than 60 NYS Assemblymembers support the New York Public Banking Act, as do more than 100 local elected officials representing 33 cities and counties across the state.
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 renewable energy, small and worker-owned businesses, and more. They further 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.
Following a state budget process in which lawmakers failed to address the housing crisis, speakers underscored how public banks would enable New York to dramatically expand affordable housing, by channeling capital to nonprofit housing developers, community land trusts, and other affordable housing providers.
“The recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, and First Republic Bank should serve as a wake-up call for New York. Albany must enact the New York Public Banking Act this session,” 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 New York Public Banking Act would provide municipalities throughout New York state the option to establish a municipal bank. A municipal bank would prioritize the public needs of a municipality, such as affordable housing, infrastructure, small business loans, and other priorities, and not the profit of private shareholders. With the failures of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, and now First Republic Bank, passing this legislation is now more important than ever for the state of New York,” said Senate Banks Chair James Sanders Jr.
“Inclusive economic development is integral to our communities,” said Senator Lea Webb. “It is important that we have tools, such as public banking, which ensures that public dollars are invested in our local communities. Public banking creates another pathway for supporting issues, such as affordable housing, and small business development to name a few. It is time to bring public banking to New York, and put our dollars to work for our communities.”
“The New York Public Banking Act has the potential to create new ways to invest in our communities and small businesses. With the recent developments in regional banking, public banking is something to be thoroughly considered. As the Chair of the Assembly Banks Committee and lead sponsor of the legislation, I am happy to facilitate and prioritize these vital discussions,” said Assembly Banks Chair Pamela J. Hunter.
“Currently, New York state’s taxpayer dollars sit in private banks on Wall Street where the funds are invested in destructive industries like fossil fuel companies and private prisons. On top of this, some of these banks are unstable, like Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank and put New York’s future investments at risk. A public bank gives New Yorkers the voice they deserve, placing the money where it is publicly accountable and utilized for investment in New York priorities like affordable housing, clean energy initiatives, a just transition and fair banking services. This has the potential to transform our banking system by making it more equitable, accountable and profitable for New York. We don’t have time to waste in protecting New Yorkers,” said Assemblymember Harvey Epstein.
“With widespread support in both the Senate and Assembly, we have an opportunity this year to make the transformative solution of public banking a reality. Public banks exist in other states and around the world, and New York can seize on the successes of those models, bringing responsible lending and banking services to underserved communities while investing in renewable energy and climate solutions for the public good. Now is the time for us to establish public banking rooted in our communities and not let this critical piece of legislation stall any longer,” said Assemblymember Anna Kelles.
“Public banking will serve vulnerable communities across the state, like the community of Red Hook in AD 51, which is a banking desert. This bill will expand opportunities for working people, and will give localities like NYC an alternative to doing business with banks that invest in the fossil fuel industry. When we create a public option, we’ll create a more equitable future. No longer will working people be deprioritized and discriminated against. That’s why we must pass the Public Banking Act now,” said Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes.
“I am thrilled to support the New York Public Banking Act, which offers a transformative solution to democratize our financial system and uplift underserved communities. We are sending a clear message that it’s time to prioritize people over profits. As we witness cities like New York City and Rochester leading the charge in establishing municipal banks, it’s evident that a more equitable and inclusive financial future is within our grasp,” said Assemblymember Steven Raga.
“Billions of public dollars in New York sit in private banks, and yet these same banks drive consistent disinvestment in our communities. Public Banking allows our dollars to come to bear for our own communities, by returning dividends and investments to the people. Public Banking will provide more sustainable and accessible solutions with low interest rates to borrowers, local business, and public agencies, bringing greater financial access to our neighbors, students, and friends. Public banks allow local governments to invest in infrastructure with lower interest costs, and will help facilitate economic growth across our state. Time to give our money back to the people,” said Assemblymember Amanda Septimo.
“As we approach the final stretch of the legislative session, we have a great opportunity to pass a critical piece of legislation that would benefit all communities. The New York Public Banking Act is crucial for our state’s economic growth, as it would create jobs, support small businesses, and address financial inequalities. I look forward to seeing this bill cross the finish line,” said Assemblymember Kenny Burgos.