This Fall, Measure B was Defeated. But Public Banking is on the Rise.

by Public Bank LA
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Alison Malisa, California Public Banking Alliance. On November 6, responsible and sustainable economics was on the ballot in Los Angeles in the form of Measure B. Measure B was arguably one of the most important midterm ballot items in the country. For the first time in ninety-nine years, voters had the opportunity to approve by referendum a measure in support of public banking. Without funding, and virtually without precedent, Measure B was the first time many voters had even heard of public banking.

The last time a public bank was on the ballot, it was 1919 and in North Dakota, when 61,495 voters established the only other public bank in the history of our fifty states. Ninety-nine years later, thanks to the laudable efforts of a small group of unfunded activists, the success of the Bank of North Dakota, and the growing need for a common sense and bipartisan solution to the financial crisis, public banking was finally up for a vote again.

This time, over a quarter of a million Angelenos gave their thumbs up, garnering over 43% of the vote in favor of this little-known strategy for local governments to recapture wealth and reinvest it in the community. That is why the public banking movement is celebrating a growing momentum of support. The reality of instituting a bank supportive of people and the planet is becoming ever more tangible.

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Public Banking Proponents See Victory in Outcome of Measure B Vote

by Public Bank LA
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Sylvia Chi, California Public Banking Alliance. (Los Angeles) Although Measure B, which proposed amending the Los Angeles City Charter to authorize the city to establish a municipal financial institution, was defeated on November 6, public banking advocates, united as the California Public Banking Alliance (CPBA), remain focused on advancing statewide legislation to enable localities to establish public banks.

CPBA is confident that as it continues to advocate for this enabling legislation and educate the public about public banking, more and more Californians will join the momentum currently building for public banks across the country.

Public banking: a nationwide movement On June 29, 2018, the Los Angeles City Council responded to a rapidly growing movement in favor of public banking by placing Measure B on the ballot, making it the first referendum on public banking in the United States since the Bank of North Dakota was established in 1919. According to a map created by the Public Banking Institute, over 20 U.S. cities and states, from Washington state to Washington, D.C., are currently working toward public banks.

The Green New Deal put forward by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Congressional progressives proposes a public banking system as a way to finance their plan for a just transition of the U.S. economy to becoming carbon neutral. Germany’s public banking sector has been key to the country’s transition to renewable energy, providing over 70% of investments in renewables, totaling 10.3 billion euros, in 2016 alone.

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Today Americans Determine Our Political Future

by Public Bank LA
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John Nichols, The Nation. Public Bank LA is one of the "five contests that could signal where we’re headed on climate change, criminal-justice reform, financial reform, net neutrality, and militarism."

Los Angeles will vote on a charter amendment to remove barriers to developing a city-owned bank. The proposal represents an initial step in the complicated process of developing a municipal bank along the lines of the 99-year-old state-owned Bank of North Dakota. But make no mistake: LA’s first step is a big one—especially at a moment when communities and states across the country are exploring to alternatives to Wall Street. The grassroots Public Bank LA campaign—which has drawn support from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA City Council President Herb Wesson, major unions, Our Revolution, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters—has made a compelling case for a people’s bank. “Last year the City of Los Angeles paid $170 million in banking fees and $1.1 billion in interest to big banks and investors. Banks have leveraged our tax dollars to finance harmful industries including private prisons, fossil fuel extraction, and weapons manufacturing. In 2017, the City of Los Angeles divested its funds from Wells Fargo, which was fined billions of dollars for creating illegal customer accounts, has a history of discriminating against Latino and African-American home buyers, and finances industries harmful to Angelenos. Local community banks are too small to manage the city’s funds, but Wall Street is not the only alternative,” the group reminds voters. “Banking as a public utility is a proven model worldwide. Public banks keep money local and cut costs by eliminating middlemen, shareholders and high-paid executives.”

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