Today, the Rochester Public Banking Coalition (RPBC) and local elected officials held a press conference at City Hall calling on lawmakers in Albany to pass S.1754/A.3352, The New York Public Banking Act. The press conference coincided with the release of a letter in support of the legislation signed by more than 100 local officials across the state, including every member of the Rochester City Council and several Monroe County Legislators.
“I am proud to be one of 18 local officials who have expressed their support of municipal public banks by signing onto this statewide letter,” said Mary Lupien, Vice President of Rochester City Council, and a founding member of the RPBC. “Passage of the NY Public Banking Act will allow local governments like the City of Rochester or Monroe County to create public banks where they can deposit local moneys and invest in equitable local economic development and recovery.”
"Public banking is an exciting tool to help level the playing field for districts like mine that were intentionally defunded for decades. A public bank would allow us to handle our money in ways that center the community – uplifting neighborhoods by helping to finance affordable housing, MWBEs, infrastructure projects, and more,” said Carolyn Delvecchio Hoffman, Monroe County Legislator, District 25.
The New York Public Banking Act has nearly 90 cosponsors in the State Legislature, including the entire Rochester delegation. "The time is ripe for public banking. It has never been more expensive to be poor in America. Public banks go a long way towards addressing this issue by providing safe, well-regulated and affordable banking services and financial products to historically under-served communities,” stated Assemblymember Jennifer Lunsford, 135th Assembly District. “I am proud to stand with my colleagues in the state legislature who co-sponsor the bill that would provide the framework necessary to allow local municipalities to offer this critical service to their residents and help lift up communities too-long left out of the kind of financing needed to address underserved markets.”
“Public banks create autonomy and represent a truly democratic system of money management within the community where the decision-making stays in the hands of the people most affected by the results,” stated Assemblymember Harry Bronson, 138th Assembly District. “and by implementing public banking we will strengthen local economies, save money within that economy, save money with our work force development, that responds to community needs and creates jobs through responsible, environmentally sound infrastructure projects, practical housing development, financing in small businesses and increased access to safe and reliable banking options, predominantly to underserved communities.”
“Public banking, created and owned by the local government, is key to better growth and health of our communities. This structure allows for increased investment in public good projects like renewable energy, infrastructure and housing. We know public banking in our cities and towns will support local businesses and strengthen our neighborhoods. I am proud to support this effort in New York,” stated Assemblymember Sarah Clark, 136th Assembly District.
Public banks are common throughout the world, with more than 900 examples from Costa Rica to Germany. In the U.S., the Bank of North Dakota has successfully financed public projects and made responsible loans to small businesses, farmers, and others for more than a century. Recently, California enacted legislation to facilitate public banking at the local level.
"So many of our neighbors are unbanked or underbanked. We've made accessing financial products and building wealth so difficult, from the location of banks to requirements to open accounts. A public bank would greatly help expand the capacity and reach of locally-rooted credit unions and community development financial institutions in Rochester. That's why I am a strong supporter of public banking,” stated Rachel Barnhart, Monroe County Legislator, 21st District.
“A public bank in Rochester would not compete with local banks and credit unions but would partner with them to support vital sectors of our local economy including affordable housing, renewable energy, infrastructure, and small business loans,” stated Melissa Marquez, CEO of Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union. It would also allow local government to divest from big Wall Street banks that extract wealth from our neighborhoods of color and finance destructive industries like private prisons, guns, and fossil fuels.”
The New York Public Banking Act (S.1754/A.3352) would create the legal and regulatory framework needed for localities to create public banks, allowing communities to determine how public money can be used to best meet local needs.
The Rochester Public Banking Coalition is a group of progressive community members with backgrounds ranging from banking to public service who believes public money should work for the public good, and that establishing a municipal public bank to serve the Rochester community will make this happen.