Media Release: Majority of Senate Co-Sponsors New York Public Banking Act

Media Release: Majority of Senate Co-Sponsors New York Public Banking Act

Mike Sandmel,

Media Release: Majority of Senate Co-Sponsors New York Public Banking Act

Groups and Electeds Call on Albany to Enact Legislation Paving Way for Local Public Banks That Would Reinvest in Black and Brown Neighborhoods

Today, New York State legislators joined community and labor groups from across the state in calling on Albany to enact the New York Public Banking Act (S1754/A3352), which as of late last week has been co-sponsored by a majority of the NYS Senate.

“New York should allow municipalities the choice to establish public banks. With much gratitude to my colleagues in the Senate and to all the supporters of the New York Public Banking Act, I can now announce that the majority of Senators in the New York State Senate are sponsors to this vital legislation,” said NYS Senate Banks Chair James Sanders Jr., lead sponsor of the New York Public Banking Act. “It is time for both the Senate and Assembly to pass this bill and for Governor Kathy Hochul to sign it into law for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”

Responding to the news that the bill had reached majority co-sponsorship in the Senate, NYS Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris added, “Public banking opens new opportunities for financial security to more New Yorkers and it’s time we give localities the opportunity to help residents in this important way.”

The New York Public Banking Act would create a safe and appropriate regulatory framework for local public banks – financial institutions created by governments and chartered to serve the public interest. Public banks would hold government deposits and reinvest in permanently affordable housing, green energy, small and worker-owned businesses, and more – particularly in low-income communities and historically-redlined Black and brown neighborhoods.

“Support for public banking continues to build, as New Yorkers demand accountable banks that will responsibly hold public money and reinvest in historically-redlined communities of color,” said Tousif Ahsan of New Economy Project, which coordinates the NYS Community Equity Agenda and Public Bank NYC coalitions. “Now, with majority co-sponsorship for the New York Public Banking Act in the NYS Senate, it’s time for Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins to bring the bill to a vote and ensure that public money works for the public good.”

“Public banking carries the promise of achieving solutions to many of our state’s most pressing problems. From creating renewable energy to building quality affordable housing, public banking can be a creative part of how we finance critically needed investments while creating quality jobs,” said NYS Senator Rachel May. “Let’s pass the New York Public Banking Act to create an economy that works for all New Yorkers.”

“It’s time to help democratize the economy of New York and usher in democratic financial institutions, empowering citizens and communities to engage with the economy on their terms, transforming their local economies for the better. Bold, local action is essential to create an equitable economy and advance racial and economic justice,” said NYS Senator Robert Jackson. “Establishing public banks is a significant step in that direction, allowing us to overcome the various challenges we face, from the lack of affordable housing to bank redlining. I am glad to be part of a majority of the Senate that co-sponsors the New York Public Banking Act.”

The recent collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and New York State-chartered Signature Bank have brought heightened attention to public banking. In a letter delivered to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie last week, a statewide coalition of public banking supporters stressed that passing the New York Public Banking Act this session “will demonstrate the legislature’s commitment to addressing inequities in our financial system and economy while helping to promote stability in New York’s banking sector.”

“After Signature Bank loaned millions of dollars to Madison Realty Capital for the purchase of our buildings, our coalition suffered a great loss of affordable housing, lack of Tenant Protection Plan oversight, shoddy construction, and more in our fifteen buildings,” recounted Georgina Christ, of the Tenants Taking Control Coalition. “After two Attorney General settlements and the banning of one of our landlords from real estate, we have lived through the terrible effects of predatory equity. We support alternatives that work for the public good and stabilize communities, like public banking.” 

In addition to majority co-sponsorship in the NYS Senate, the New York Public Banking Act has thus far been co-sponsored by over 60 NYS Assemblymembers. More than 100 elected officials representing 33 local governments from Western New York to Long Island also have endorsed the bill. In light of the broad and growing support, elected officials and advocates urged passage of the bill this session to address persistent banking inequality in New York.

“With the majority of the Senate co-sponsoring the New York Public Banking Act, we are one step closer to getting this critical bill passed this year,” said NYS Assemblymember Anna Kelles. “The recent private bank failures have highlighted the urgency to create a public banking option, which would also create a mechanism to divest public money from climate-destroying Wall Street banks and invest in public banks that drive community-based climate solutions. In the face of greater consolidation among the biggest banks in the world, now is the time for us to establish public banking rooted in our communities.”

“The New York Public Banking Act, which will increase access to public banks through a new regulatory structure, has the potential to support banking deserts like Red Hook in crisis rehabilitation. That’s why I’m so excited that it is now being co-sponsored by a majority of the State Senate,” said NYS Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes. “I am ready to pass this bill and put it into action to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers. So, I invite my colleagues in the state legislature to put the Public Banking Act to a vote.”

“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,” said NYS Assemblymember Jen Lunsford. “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 retail banking market.” 

“The public banking movement has met its moment as banks that have consistently loaned to landlords that engage in dubious practices begin to show their risky behavior not only has negative effects on the residents in the buildings, but cascading ripple effects across neighborhoods and the nation,” said Jodie Leidecker, organizer with Cooper Square Committee. “Tenants who’ve had to fight for years for decent living conditions and safe construction can look forward to their tax dollars being held by an institution that supports them rather than one that incentivizes getting them out of their homes.” 

“With majority co-sponsorship, our State Senate is sending a clear message that the Legislature is ready to pass the New York State Public Banking Act,” said Kyle Giller, staff attorney at the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). “This legislation will enable our cities and counties to divest our tax dollars from Wall Street banks and create a publicly accountable financial institution that can invest in community needs and public goods. A public bank will allow our communities to finally make the bold investments we need to combat the climate crisis, expand affordable financial services like credit unions, and build permanently affordable housing.”

“As yet another crisis calls for public money to be used to bail out commercial banks, we again raise our demand: Public Money for the Public Good,” said Delia Marx from WESPAC and Westchester Cooperative Network. “It’s time to pass the New York Public Banking Act, allowing local governments to charter financial institutions with the purpose of recapturing the investment potential of public deposits to serve the public interest and drive equitable and sustainable local development.”