March 10, 2021
NY State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Room 907 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 11247
NY State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie
Room 932, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 11247
Dear Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie:
We, the undersigned 104 organizations, respectfully urge you to support S.1762-A (Sanders)/A.5782 (Pichardo), the “New York Public Banking Act.” This carefully-crafted legislation creates a safe and appropriate regulatory framework for cities, counties, and regions seeking to establish public banks. It authorizes the NYS Department of Financial Services to issue special-purpose public bank charters, paving the way for public banking in New York.
Even before COVID-19 gripped our communities, New York faced widening inequality and other daunting challenges. As New York moves toward a post-COVID future, local governments need new tools — including public banks — to ensure a just recovery for all New Yorkers.
Public banks are financial institutions created by a public entity (such as a city, county, or state) and chartered to serve the public interest. They hold public deposits and leverage those funds to support local economic development.
Our organizations are fighting for public banks that have a clear mission to advance racial, economic, and environmental justice. With these principles at their core, public banks would reinvest in New York’s low-income and immigrant neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color, meeting critical community needs and strengthening our ability to withstand future crises.
Under current state law, localities seeking to establish public banks must apply for a commercial bank charter. This forces local governments to retrofit their public bank business models into a regulatory system that was designed for private, for-profit enterprises. By passing the “New York Public Banking Act” this session, the NYS Legislature will help to facilitate the responsible formation of public banks by cities, counties, and regions around the state.
Wall Street banks have for decades blocked low-income people, immigrants, and people of color from mainstream banking, relegating them to high-cost, predatory financial services that extract massive amounts of wealth from communities and perpetuate poverty and inequality.
Public banks would partner with our state’s numerous community-based lenders to deliver responsible financing and emergency funding to small and worker-owned businesses – including MWBEs – hardest hit by COVID-19. They would invest in economic development initiatives that build, rather than extract, wealth, such as permanently-affordable housing, community-controlled renewable energy, and more. And they would expand access to high-quality, affordable banking services in New York’s historically-redlined communities of color.
Public banking is a proven model; it is common throughout the world, from Costa Rica to Germany. In the U.S., the Bank of North Dakota has successfully financed public projects and made responsible loans to small businesses, farmers, and others for more than a century.
Recently, California enacted legislation to facilitate public banking at the local level. It’s time for New York to take action and usher in democratic financial institutions that meet the needs of New York’s communities, during the COVID-19 crisis, and beyond.
NYS Community Equity Agenda Coalition
Public Bank NYC Coalition
Rochester Public Banking Coalition
Buffalo Niagara Community Reinvestment Coalition
A Bookkeeping Cooperative
Action for A Better Community
Adirondack North Country Association
Alternatives Federal Credit Union
Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD)
Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association
Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative
Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union
CAMBA Legal Services, Inc.
Carroll Gardens Association
Center for Family Life
Center for Frontline Retail
Citizen Action of New York
City Roots Community Land Trust
City Roots Contractors Guild
City-Wide Tenant Union of Rochester
Climate Solutions Accelerator of the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region
College and Community Fellowship
Communications Workers of America District 1
Cooper Square Committee
Cooper Square Community Land Trust
DC37 Municipal Employees Legal Services
District Council 37, AFSCME
East Harlem/El Barrio Community Land Trust (EHEBCLT)
Empire Justice Center
Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island
Food & Water Watch
Freedom To Thrive
Fruit Belt Community Land Trust
Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union
Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce
Housing Conservation Coordinators
Legal Services Staff Association, NOLSW/UAW 2320
Long Island Housing Services, Inc.
Long Island Jobs with Justice
Long Island Progressive Coalition
Lower East Side People’s FCU
Maharlika Cleaning Coop
Mobilization for Justice, Inc.
Moving Forward Unidos
Multicultural Solidarity Long Island
National Center for Law and Economic Justice
National Writers Union
Neighbors United Through Service
New Economy Project
New York Communities for Change
New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG)
New York StateWide Senior Action Council
Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition
NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives
Pan African CDI
Partners for Dignity and Rights
Partnership for the Public Good
PathStone Enterprise Center
Picture the Homeless
Puerto Rican Independence Party – Rochester Committee
Queens Volunteer Lawyers
Riverdale-Yonkers Society for Ethical Culture
Sane Energy Project
Sixth Street Community Center
South Bronx Unite
Strong Economy For All Coalition
Technical, Office and Professional Union Local 2110 UAW
The Financial Clinic
The Legal Aid Society
The Point Community Development Corporation
The Volunteer Lawyers Project
The Working World
U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives
United Auto Workers, Region 9A
University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP)
University Student Senate – CUNY
WESPAC Foundation, Inc.
We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Inc
Westchester For Change
Western New York Law Center
Westminster Economic Development Initiative, Inc. (WEDI)