Guest Post by Lis Marshall
Elisabeth Marshall wrote this article which originally appeared in NWCitizen. Lis has lived on Lummi Island for 28 years, where she is a peony grower and raises chickens and fruit and vegetables on a small farm. She has been studying our financial system in earnest since 2004.
An informational session on Public Banking will be hosted by the Friends of the Island Library on Saturday, April 16 at the Lummi Island Grange at 7:30 p.m. The lecture, by Ann Tulintseff, will explain how states can create their own credit by owning a bank. Ann is a member of the Board of the Public Banking Institute (PBI), publicbankinginstitute.org, a non-profit organization whose mission is to explore and facilitate implementation of public banking options.
There is a Public Banking effort underway in Washington state. Bills were introduced this year in both the House and Senate that will add Washington to the growing number of states now actively moving to create public banking facilities. The bills, House Bill 1320 and Senate Bill 5238, propose creation of a Washington Investment Trust (WIT) to “promote agriculture, education, community development, economic development, housing, and industry” by using “the resources of the people of Washington State within the state.”
Currently, all state funds are deposited with Bank of America. HB 1320 proposes, “all state funds be deposited in the Washington Investment Trust and be guaranteed by the state and used to promote the common good and public benefit of all the people and their businesses within [the] state.” This legislation is similar to that now being studied or proposed in Illinois, Virginia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, Michigan, Oregon, California and others.
The effort in Washington state draws heavily on the success of the 92-year-old Bank of North Dakota (BND), currently the only state-wide, publicly-owned U.S. bank. The BND has helped North Dakota escape the budgetary disasters facing other states. In 2009, North Dakota sported the largest budget surplus it had ever had, it has the lowest unemployment and default rates in the nation, and the most community banks per capita of any state in the U.S. Over the last decade, the BND has returned over a third of a billion dollars to the state’s general fund.
A prime sponsor of the Washington state legislation is state Representative Bob Hasegawa, who has called the proposal for a publicly owned bank “a simple concept that will reap huge benefits for Washington.” In a letter to constituents, he said, “The concept (is) to keep taxpayers’ money working here in Washington to build our economy. Currently, all tax revenues go into a ‘Concentration Account’ held by the Bank of America. BoA makes money off our money and we never see those profits again. Instead, we can create our own institution and keep taxpayers’ dollars here in Washington, working for Washington.”
A key feature of the Washington banking institution, according to Hasegawa, is that it will work in partnership with financial institutions, community-based organizations, economic development groups, guaranty agencies, and others. He said the Washington Investment Trust will offer “transparency, accountability, and accuracy of financial reporting,” a welcome change from the accounting tricks common among the large Wall Street money center banks today.
Please join us on Saturday, April 16, to investigate public banking as an option for Washington, and to meet with Ann Tulintseff who, beyond her interest in public finance, has a Ph.D., E.E., S.M., and S.B. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A question and answer session will follow the lecture.
Directions: The Grange is at 2200 No. Nugent Rd., on Lummi Island and is within easy walking distance of the ferry. Park at Gooseberry Point and walk over on the 7 p.m. ferry. Walk off the ferry and turn right on No. Nugent. The Grange will be about two blocks down on the left, and is well marked. A $5 donation is suggested. For more information call Elisabeth Marshall at 360 758-7173.