Credit Union Advocates for NYC Public Banking Bill

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Last year, New York Senator James Sanders introduced the New York Public Banking Act, which would make it easier for public banks to operate in New York. It didn’t pass, but it is arguing for the law again this year (S1762B/A8290A).

Public banks are controlled by a government body rather than private investors (this is not a bank where you will open a checking account). They can also be institutional lenders – banks that other banks turn to for loans.

Credit unions across the state could benefit from the passage of the legislation.

Melissa Marquez, CEO of Rochester’s Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union, 40, said capital tonight that a public bank would be a great partner to help the credit union invest in the community.

“One of the reasons we’re so invested in trying to get this legislation passed is that we’re really looking for a partner to fund projects,” Marquez explained. “There (are not) enough financing vehicles. No community lenders, no big banks are doing the kind of projects we see as necessary, especially in minority neighborhoods and low-income neighborhoods.

The economic development initiatives Marquez refers to could be anything from an affordable housing lot to a business that could support a local worker co-op.

“These are considered higher risks. Typical traditional lenders won’t want to invest in something like that,” Marquez explained.

Sanders’ New York Public Banking Act currently sits on the Senate Banking Committee.

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