California Opens the Public Banking Floodgates

by Public Bank LA
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When you pay state and local taxes, parking fees and other payments to your regional government, chances are those funds will almost immediately end up in a corporate bank. 

For instance, until recently the majority of these payments to the city of Los Angeles were held by Wells Fargo, a bank that has routinely paid out millions of dollars in fines and settlements due to predatory lending, foreclosure abuses and defrauding investors. Although the Los Angeles City Council voted in December 2017 to divest from Wells Fargo, the city must still use the banking services of JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, which are among the largest financiers of fossil fuel industry. That’s in large part because the city has lacked the option of chartering its own public banks.

That changed on October 2, when the California Public Banking Act was signed into law by the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, making it explicitly legal for municipalities in California to create their own public banks and use those banks to hold and leverage public funds. 

Continue reading in Common Dreams.

How a Public Bank Could Free S.F.’s Money From Wall Street

by Public Bank LA
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Cities like San Francisco looked at ways to separate taxpayer money from fossil fuels but realized there was a limit. In two big ways, North Dakota both shined a light on a problem and offered a solution — one that eventually brought Jackie Fielder, an indigenous Defund DAPL organizer, to help form the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition and take it to the state with similar-minded folks in Los Angeles.

“The narrative shifted,” says Trinity Tran, co-founder of Public Bank LA, of battling Wells Fargo lobbyists while pushing for divestment. “It was pretty apparent that this is literally the people versus Wall Street. This is a permanent form of divestment.”

In 2017, then-Supervisor Malia Cohen was intrigued by the idea and established a public bank task force. Cohen’s status as a San Francisco moderate showed it wasn’t a pie-in-the-sky idea but something for governments to seriously consider.

“I know it’s sort of a culture shift to think about a public bank and what does that mean,” Fewer says. “I never thought San Francisco would be moving toward buying or acquiring PG&E assets. This is very similar to the path toward public banking.”

Continue reading in SF Weekly.

Governor signs legislation creating public bank

by Public Bank LA
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California State Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), joint-authors of Assembly Bill 857, and local leaders applauded Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing AB 857 into law on Oct. 2.

“California is starting a national conversation by embracing a public banking option,” Santiago said. “People are sick and tired of going broke over the corporate ways of doing things. This new law prioritizes communities and neighborhoods by empowering localities to use public dollars for their own public good: from investing in affordable housing projects and building new schools and parks to accessible loans for students and businesses. I applaud the governor for breaking the toxic cycle of Wall Street’s predatory practices.”

“The public’s money should be used for the public good,” Chiu said. “[The] signing sends a strong message that California is putting people before Wall Street profits. We finally have the option of reinvesting our public tax dollars in our local communities instead of rewarding Wall Street’s bad behavior.”

“With a public banking system, California cities will be able to more effectively and affordably take on projects on the scale that the issues of the day call us to do – from building more affordable housing, to constructing more resilient infrastructure to ensuring the cities that our children and grandchildren will inherit are prepared for a changing climate,” added Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, 10th District. “Today, California is challenging the notion that we’re stuck with the big bank status quo that has exacerbated the rising inequality throughout our state and country.”

Continue reading on Beverly Press.

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