The D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking released its long awaited feasibility study on public banking undertaken in 2018. The report details needs faced by D.C. residents, businesses, neighborhoods, and other stakeholders, covering Affordable Housing, Public Infrastructure Financing, Student Loans, Small Businesses, Non-Profits, Environmental and Sustainability, Business and Economic Development, and Consumer Issues. It also explores legal, financial, regulatory, and governance challenges to establishing and operating a public bank in the District.
The report provides some potential solutions to the documented needs of DC citizens and businesses, which have greatly expanded due to the COVID-19 pandemic since the study was written. Its findings offer insights into potential solutions, but only general policy recommendations and calls for additional research.
“This report covers some preliminary ground and summarizes significant input from DC stakeholders on public banking issues. It’s unfortunate that DISB was limited in the procurement of the feasibility study to a highly restricted pool of contractors, eliminating the leading U.S. bank regulatory, legal, financial, and governance firms with offices in the District of Columbia,” remarked Steve Seuser of the DC Public Banking Center. “The opportunity now is for stakeholders to explore the outstanding issues, correct misperceptions, and provide potential options for a D.C. public bank with assistance from industry experts.”
The DC Public Banking Center calls for the establishment of a People’s Commission to explore these critical financial, legal, and bank regulatory issues, find concrete solutions, and propose specific public banking options for D.C. elected officials to consider. The urgent need now is to address the collective threats of COVID-19, climate change, and racial and economic inequity. A DC public bank can provide important new financing options to help the District of Columbia address these once-in-a-lifetime challenges. Moving expeditiously to a functioning DC Public Bank is particularly important because of its great value in facilitating a just green recovery from the deep social and economic crisis we are experiencing.