public banking

The Brian Lehrer Show — As this year’s budget season comes to a close in New York City, Tousif Ahsan, Public banking campaign organizer at the New Economy Project, and James Parrott, Director of economic and fiscal policies at the Center for New York City Affairs at the New School, explain the findings of a new report that shows how holding city money in a public bank could uplift the local economy, create jobs, tackle the affordable housing crisis, and move us forward on the path for a more sustainable and economically just future.

City Limits — “Too often we think banking has nothing to do with democracy,” said State Senate Banking Committee Chair James Sanders at last week’s hearing of the New York City Banking Commission.

But banking and democracy were on full, if not always fulsome, display at the hearing as the commission decided which banks would be eligible to receive more than $100 billion in annual city agency deposits over the next two years. For the first time, the commission accepted public testimony before voting on which banks could hold city dollars.

Today’s hearing poses two urgent questions for New York State policymakers: “Why did Signature Bank fail?” and “What can be done to prevent future bank failures in New York?” My testimony primarily will focus on how public banking can strengthen New York’s financial sector in ways that promote responsible lending, equitable reinvestment, and racial and economic justice.

Dozens of New Yorkers representing community groups across the city testified today at the first-ever public hearing before the NYC Banking Commission on the designation of banks eligible to hold municipal deposits. A familiar refrain at the hearing was the call for a public bank to hold city funds and reinvest in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color that the big banks routinely fail to serve.

This year, the City of New York will collect more than $100 billion in revenue, from taxes and other sources, to fund public services. Currently, most of this money is placed on deposit with large, commercial banks that systematically harm New Yorkers and finance fossil fuels, speculative real estate, and other destructive industries. Public banking offers a bold alternative, and we urge the City Council to take immediate steps toward establishing a public bank, starting with swiftly passing “The People’s Bank Act.”