Public Banking Progress around the U.S.

Our one existing public bank

North Dakota has a 100-year-old public bank. It’s no coincidence that North Dakota survived the 2008 recession in much better shape than any other state in the U.S. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance says:

BND functions mainly as a “banker’s bank” — meaning that most of its lending is done in partnership with local banks and credit unions.  About half of the bank’s $3.9 billion loan portfolio consists of business and agricultural loans that are originated by a local financial institution and funded in part by BND.  By participating in these loans, BND expands the lending capacity of North Dakota’s community banks, giving them added strength in competing against big out-of-state banks.

Activity Around the Country

October, 2017: Los Angeles is moving fast!

Strong steps taken by LA City Council toward a Public Bank for Los Angeles have drawn a good deal of media attention, including coverage by the local CBS affiliate. The Ad Hoc Committee on Comprehensive Job Creation Plan began to debate the issue last Wednesday, Oct 4.

Following the successful Sept 29 meeting that took place between interested Councilmembers, legislative directors and Public Banking experts, Ellen Brown was invited to attend the Ad Hoc Committee and explain how a Bank of Los Angeles can be feasible, profitable and beneficial for the city’s residents.

The Ad Hoc Committee panel included the City’s Attorney Office, City Administrative Officer, Chief Legislative Officer, and PBI’s Ellen Brown.

In Seattle, during the city’s closed door 2018 budget talks, City Councilmember Kshama Sawant introduced a resolution for a $200k feasibility study for a public bank. Seattle supporters are flooding the phones to make sure this gets into the final budget.

July, 2017:  In Los Angeles, the City Council has instructed City Administrator and City Legal Analyst to “report back quickly” on the feasibility of a public bank to be known as the “Bank of Los Angeles,” as well as to sponsor resolutions moving public banking forward on the state level.

The recommendation to move forward comes from City Council President Herb Wesson, who is very interested in solving the cannabis banking issues (though cannabis is not mentioned in the official resolution).

In New York City, the New Economy Project is hiring a full-time organizer to get a public bank initiative off the ground.

June, 2017: Washington D.C. has budgeted $200,000 for a feasibility study for public banking in the District.

May, 2017: The City and County of San Francisco has committed to appoint a volunteer task force to study public banking and report back in six months. The task force was scheduled to start towards the end of June 2017, but is being slow to get started.

Senator Bernie Sanders has spoken out in favor of a Vermont state bank:

At the end of June 2017, the Santa Fe City Council approved the city mayor’s appointments to the public banking task force, which is now beginning its work. Since Santa Fe has previously done extensive studies and a five-year plan, this could be the final step before a public bank is formed. Elaine Sullivan, president of the key public banking advocacy group Banking on New Mexico , is a member of the task force. We eagerly await their results.

According to Nichoe Lichen, another Banking on New Mexico member, the State of New Mexico is also taking public banking seriously.

Portland, Oregon is organizing. As they say, “join the Public Banking Movement that is sweeping the United States.”

In Minneapolis, the Wells Fargo scandal is pushing lawmakers to examine public banking.

[Councilmembers] Cano and Gordon said the city should look at establishing a municipal bank or participating in a publicly owned banking operation.

The State of Pennsylvania is organizing for public banking. At the beginning of May 2017, Philadelphia divested from Wells Fargo, and given a community bank a one-year contract. Philadelphia has been paying attention to public banking for a few years now, and the divestment may help move that project forward.

The State of Colorado has a robust public banking group.

On May 20, at the California State Democratic Party Convention, candidate for governor Gavin Newsom gave Twitter a rallying cry for a public bank in California:

San Diego County, California is in the beginning stages of organizing for public banking, as is Santa Barbara, California.

If you know about more public banking efforts, let us know so we can keep this page up to date.