Frequently Asked Questions
Public banks provide many benefits for Oregon
- Keeps our money local—big banks take our money out of state.
- Reduces financing costs of public projects––leaving more money available for the projects.
- Revitalize the local economy by partnering with community banks and credit unions to make loans available to small- and medium-sized businesses, including farmers and underbanked business owners who have been locked out by the big banks.
- Profits from the bank can be reinvested in local projects that benefit the community.
Keeping our money in the local economy working for our communities
Oregon cities can create public banks which are owned by the public and run by independent banking professionals. Public banks work with local community banks and credit unions to create a stronger economy by providing lending programs and lower-cost loans for homebuyers, small businesses, family farms, underserved populations, affordable housing programs, and low-cost student loans for Oregon students. They can also make loans and sell bonds for public infrastructure projects which often cost twice what we could otherwise pay because of the huge fees and interest payments to big banks.
Big Banks Behave Better when run for Public Benefit rather than Private Profit
Big profit-driven banks not only take money out of the local economy to send to their executives and shareholders in the form of dividends and stock buy-backs (Wells Fargo took over $500 million out of Oregon in 2018 alone), they have also been caught making fraudulent accounts, needlessly foreclosing on thousands of homeowners, and giving golden parachutes to misbehaving executives. In the present crisis, big banks have focused too much on ways to benefit from federal assistance programs and not enough on getting assistance loans to the people who needed them. By contrast, the public bank of North Dakota has been very effective in getting federal assistance funds from the recent CARES Act to the people they were intended for (and it has the highest credit rating of any bank in the country!) That is because Public Bank executives are focused on serving the public interest, while private bankers are focused on making as much money as possible for their executives and shareholders.
Public Banks are vital institutions that keep taxpayer money safer in our local economy while allowing us to fund more projects that benefit our communities. That’s why the Oregon Public Bank Alliance (OPBA) is working to safeguard Oregon’s future by passing clarifying legislation in the 2021 legislative session outlining a legal framework for Oregon cities to form public banks. With taxpayer funds currently held in big out-of-state for-profit banks, a major disruption in the US economy could pose serious risk to hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. At the same time, Oregonians pay huge fees and interest to borrow from those same big banks for projects that benefit our local communities. Creating local public banks will help solve these problems and give Oregonians more control over our future.
Any incorporated city can currently create a municipal bank. Cities can also work together or with school boards to create a public bank and help capitalize it.
We are a coalition of activists and organizations working to create local economic resilience and stability through community-focused public banks. Our mission is to enable Oregon’s communities to create public banks that serve their local communities, including existing community banks and credit unions, and that become the preferred banks for local governments and institutions.
The most important way to take action on public banking in Oregon is to urge your legislators to support passing a Municipal Bank Bill that clarifies a legal path for municipalities to form public banks.
Support the bill:
- Go to contact page and sign up to stay informed
- Like/Share our website to social media
- Check out the Oregon Municipal Bank Bill from the 2019 session
- Contact your state legislators to voice your support of our Municipal Bank Bill
- You, or your organization, can publicly endorse our campaign
- Tell your friends and family and ask them to do the same