DC Public Bank

Mission and Vision

A:

Our Mission is to establish a DC public bank.

Our Vision is a publicly owned, publicly accountable bank in D.C., in partnership with local financial institutions, that delivers quality, sound financial services that will help create an environmentally sustainable DC; promote local jobs, sustainable local businesses and affordable housing in the city; and enhance the financial health of the city’s general fund.

What is the D.C. Public Bank?

A:

It is a publicly owned, publicly accountable bank in D.C., which, in partnership with local financial institutions, delivers quality, sound financial services that will help create an environmentally sustainable DC; promote local jobs, sustainable local businesses and affordable housing in the city; and enhance the financial health of the city’s general fund.

How would the D.C. Public Bank operate?

A:
  • DC tax and other revenues would be deposited in the D.C. Public Bank.
  • The bank would process payments for city government expenses.
  • The bank would issue loans to fulfill the purposes of the bank as set out in its charter.
  • The bank would also reduce the costs to the City of financing short-term borrowing on active deposit accounts and infrastructure investments by avoiding high interest rates from other lenders.
  • The bank would earn interest on its investments and on loans it makes in partnership with local community banks and credit unions.
  • In order to ensure the long-term financial health of the bank, the bank could also make significant investments in secure bonds.
  • Lending priorities would be set by a public participation process.

Who would run the D.C. Public Bank?

A:
  • The bank would have an independent Board of Directors which would be elected or selected.
  • The bank would be run by professional bankers in good standing, not by politicians.

How would be the D.C. Public Bank be created?

A:
  • Either by a city referendum/initiative with approval by the City Council or
  • By an act of the City Council

What benefits would there be from establishing the D.C. Public Bank?

A:
  1. Create new jobs and spur economic growth. The D.C. Public Bank would be a participation lender, meaning it partners—never competes—with local banks to drive lending through local banks to small businesses. The proposed bank could help local private banks, community banks and credit unions expand lending by billions of dollars in the District and help small businesses create thousands of new jobs for local workers.
  2. Promote a Sustainable DC. The many ambitious and innovative proposals coming out of the Sustainable DC process need a source of investment to make them a reality. The D.C. Public Bank could be an important source of such investments, particularly for capital-intensive initiatives like ensuring energy-efficient, affordable housing to retain the District’s economic and ethnic diversity.
  3. Generate new revenues for DC. This could be done directly, through bank dividend payments, and indirectly by creating jobs and spurring local economic growth.
  4. Lower borrowing costs for DC government. The D.C. Public Bank could provide access to low-cost funds for revolving lines of credit on open deposit accounts held by D.C. government agencies.  It could also potentially provide loans for public infrastructure projects.
  5. Strengthen local private banks, community banks, and credit unions, even out credit cycles, and preserve real competition in local credit markets. There have been no bank failures in North Dakota during the financial crisis. BND’s charter is clear that its goal is to “be helpful to and to assist in the development of [North Dakota banks]… and not, in any manner, to destroy or to be harmful to existing financial institutions.” By partnering with them on large loans and providing other support, the D.C. Public Bank would strengthen small banks in an era when federal policy encourages bank consolidation.
  6. Build up small businesses. Surveys in other states show at least 75 percent support among small business owners for public banking. The D.C. Public Bank would increase lending capabilities at the smaller banks that provide the majority of small business loans in America.

How are D.C. government deposits currently held?

A:

Now the District of Columbia government deposits money with commercial banks, mostly large Wall Street banks. Those banks invest most of that money in ventures outside of D.C. With the D.C. Public Bank, those dollars, potentially billions of dollars per year, would be deposited in the D.C. Public Bank and invested in the local economy with the interest earned benefiting the city.  See the most current list of D.C. government deposit accounts.

Wouldn’t the D.C. Public Bank compete with local banks?

A:

The D.C. Public Bank would not operate retail branches. The Bank of North Dakota provides a perfect example of a strong partnership between a state bank and independent local banks in the state. With 93 state chartered banks, North Dakota has a thriving independent banking sector.


Sign the petition Donate to the cause

connect

get updates