By Sten Spinella in The Day, August 5, 2020
As Connecticut reckons with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers and community organizers have returned to the idea of public banking as a possible saving grace.
Public banks — described as “operated in the public interest” and “owned by the people through their representative governments” by the Public Banking Institute, or PBI — are not an unfamiliar concept to the Connecticut legislature. Multiple bills to establish such banks, or to study the feasibility of doing so, have been introduced without success in the past five years.
Public Bank Connecticut, a grassroots group supported by PBI, is leading an effort to educate the public on the issue.
Justin Good, a philosopher, professor and community development activist who lives in East Haddam, noted that Public Bank Connecticut has grown rapidly since its July inception, in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s how the group couches its current appeal in a petition to start a public bank in the state.
“Even after the CARES stimulus package, states and cities face serious budget crises and communities are struggling to survive, in the wake of mass unemployment, exploding costs, and plummeting tax revenues,” the petition reads. “Interest rates on municipal bonds have shot up, while interest rates for banks have dropped virtually to zero.”