public banking

As you know, climate scientists for decades have warned that fossil fuels are wreaking havoc on our environment and that bold, concerted action is needed to address the climate crisis. Yet, in the six years since the Paris Agreement, banks have poured over $3.8 trillion into the fossil fuel industry, according to the Rainforest Action Network.i Banks’ funding of fossil fuels is accelerating the climate crisis, which is becoming deadlier each year.

As low-income communities and communities of color across the state continue to reel from the economic devastation caused by COVID-19, this year’s budget presents an historic opportunity to make bold investments that will drive equitable local economic development for years, and even decades, to come. We urge both houses of the Legislature to allocate $100 million for the NYS CDFI Fund and $100 million in matching funds to help local governments capitalize public banks, and to adopt, as part of the budget, the NY Public Banking Act (S1762A/A8290), which creates a safe and appropriate regulatory framework for local public banks in New York.

Common Dreams — Over 150 advocacy groups from across the Empire State Tuesday sent a letter to New York legislative leaders urging them to follow in the footsteps of places like North Dakota, Germany, and Costa Rica and pass legislation allowing the creation of public banks that would help “advance racial equity and ensure a just recovery for all New Yorkers.”

WhoWhatWhy — New York City, once the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, is bouncing back. Broadway is reopening its doors, international tourists are arriving, and workers are returning to jobs. 

But not all the way. According to the New York City Recovery Index, the city is still just about 80 percent “back.” Hotels are still running deficits, office vacancies are at a 30-year high, and small businesses — hundreds of which closed in 2020 and 2021 — are facing long roads to recovery.

Fresh off his electoral victory, Eric Adams declared that his administration will look abroad for policy solutions to New York City’s myriad social and economic problems. “Let’s learn what they’re doing there so we can do it here,” he urged.

It just so happens, there’s a broad-based citywide coalition pressing for a bold policy solution that is common throughout the world: public banking. Bringing public banking to New York, as a proven strategy for addressing racial and economic inequality, should rank among Mayor-elect Adams’ top priorities.

This afternoon the NYS Community Equity Agenda, a coalition of more than 40 community, labor, and civil rights groups, cooperative organizations, and community development financial institutions from across New York, released its policy priorities for 2022.

Recently, the New York City Board of Health passed a resolution directing the Health Department to work with other City agencies to eliminate systemic racism in policies relating to housing, economic opportunities, and other social determinants of health – key drivers of health inequities. “The Covid-19 pandemic must render unacceptable that which has been condoned for generations,” emphasized Health Commissioner Dave A. Chokshi. 

New Economy Project is pleased to have collaborated with The Vance Center for International Justice to present this timely panel and report on public banking around the world. We are grateful to The Vance Center for carrying out such an ambitious research project, which generated well over 100 pages of detailed survey data from seven public banks on four continents. We are excited to share key insights from the report with activists, policymakers and others working to bring public banking to New York.