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Vermonters Lobby for Public Bank—And Win Millions for Local Investment Instead

The quest to achieve public banking at the state and local level has been a long slog. Until quite recently, you had to go back almost 100 years to find the last major victory: the founding of the bank of North Dakota, the only state-run public bank in the United States, which was established in 1919.

But interest has been picking up around the country. Santa Fe, New Mexico, voted in October to conduct a study on the feasibility of a city-run public bank. And in December, the Seattle City Council’s finance committee hosted experts in public banking to explore the topic.

But nowhere have the steps toward public banking been more successful than in the state of Vermont. There, Hallsmith and other advocates won a small victory against Wall Street through an effort so relentless and strategic that it would have made any banking lobbyist proud. They combined savvy organizing with data-driven reports and policy briefs to prove the benefits of a public bank—like avoiding fat interest payments to Wall Street banks—for the state’s economy.

And because the original bill put forward by Vermont state Senator Anthony Pollina and others included multiple demands—create a public bank, direct 10 percent of the state’s reserves to initially fund it, and establish an advisory committee on how best to invest locally—advocates won a decent compromise in the end.

Read the full article at YES! Magazine


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