We offer a short, clear piece on why we need a Public Bank, plus a 28-minute interview with Maya K. Van Rossum, founder of the Green Amendment, responding to concerns about the legislation, then an insightful interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on how we got where we are and where we go next.
The Green Amendment: In 28 Minutes
Retake Conversation with Maya K. van Rossum, founder of Green Amendment for the Generations, the national organization that is partnering with local legislators and advocates to pass legislation to create a Green Amendment in NM. SJR 3 Environmental Rights is sponsored by Senators Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Bill Soules, and Rep. Joanne Ferrary. This legislation, if approved by voters in a statewide referendum, would amend the state constitution to give all New Mexicans a constitutional right to clean air, pure water, a stable climate, and a healthy environment. These rights would become inherent, inalienable, and indefeasible, and among those rights reserved to all the people and on par with other protected inalienable rights.
In SJR3’s first hearing on Wednesday in Senate Rules, Retake Our Democracy Hearing Observers were able to record public comment and Senator concerns from the legitimate to the spurious. Certainly we can dismiss Senator Pirtle’s specious concerns that SJR 3 could trigger lawsuits against the wind for stirring up dust, depriving us of clean air, but other concerns were of more merit. No vote was taken as the committee had run out of time. Then Thursday night sponsors were told an amendment was to be introduced by Senator Ivey-Soto on Friday, with bill sponsors asking for the weekend to consider the amendment and work with the Senator on the language. The bill will likely be heard now on Monday or Wednesday depending upon how discussions about amendment language proceed.
Maya has been on the radio show twice before, and I serve on the SJR 3 steering committee so, fair disclosure, I am not unbiased on this bill. It is one of the most important bills among Retake’s Transformational bills. I reached out to Maya to ask if she’d do a brief interview outlining what SJR 3 (Green Amendment) is and then we zeroed in on the specific concerns raised in the Rules Committee hearing.
Please consider sending a link to this video to your legislator and to the members of the Rules Committee. Contact info for the Rules Committee members can be found at the bottom of this post. Let’s do this!
Why We Need a State Public Bank
(HB 236 – SB 313)
The following editorial was written by the Board of Renewable Taos, a local non-profit working to implement Renewable Energy in Northern New Mexico. (www.RenewableTaos.org). We received permission from Renewable Taos to reproduce this article.
Our world is shifting in ways that we can only partially understand. One of those ways is in our changing climate and the impact we experience in our local communities. We are working to reduce our impacts on climate through local generation of electricity from our abundant renewable energy resources, and in the conversion of our homes and transportation systems to that renewably generated electricity. In addition, we now have a New Mexico Energy Transition Act (ETA, 2018) that, by 2030, calls for much more renewable energy than we already have in place. How do we reach these ETA goals when our state depends so heavily on the monetary returns from the fossil fuel industry? If it were just the state of New Mexico, that would be one thing, but these mammoth economic shifts are driven by global forces. Therefore, we must learn to take advantage of our other world-class assets, and adapt. What tools do we have to deal effectively with these colossal economic shifts?
A Public (or State) Bank could provide a mechanism to help deal with these and other issues related to improving local economies and legislation is now being developed for the upcoming Legislative session. A public bank:
- Will be owned by the people of New Mexico dedicated to the benefit of New Mexico,
- Provides a safe, low cost, place to deposit funds for local and state government funds,
- Benefits the public by serving state and local community needs,
- Provides a way to save state and local governments money, eliminating fees, and providing loans at lower interest rates,
- Provides a source of funding for major NM initiatives in economic development, infrastructure, renewable energy and affordable housing. And, most importantly, continues to invest all bank profits in New Mexico,
- Employs qualified bankers serving a public mission,
- Will be held to strict accountability and transparency,
- Spurs economic growth that creates new jobs by supporting the strategic interests of New Mexico,
- Partners with and supports — rather than competing with — local community banks and Credit Unions,
- Lends money during times of stress and crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted serious needs in our state; our need for better access to health care, more numerous small business loans, and additional broadband services…
How can a public bank help? Currently, our state revenues are being deposited in large Wall Street banks. If we establish a state public bank, at least a portion of our state’s income would be deposited there and kept safe and local. Further, those deposits could be funneled into low-cost loans for local small businesses, farmers, infrastructure needs and many other economy-building purposes. More of our taxpayer dollars will be invested and managed in New Mexico.
A public bank is more powerful than public loan funds because a bank can leverage its deposits to up to ten times the original deposit. For instance, $50 million in deposits could be leveraged to $500 million in available loan money. The interest earned on those loans would go partly to the state coffers and partly to the bank so that it continues to grow its lending capabilities; an innovative use of our tax money.
But wouldn’t this be unfair competition to the local private banks? To the contrary, a public bank will actually help credit unions and local community banks thrive and expand by providing a conduit for issuing more loans than they would normally be able to offer with lowered risk.
Note that the state public Bank of North Dakota (BND) has operated for over 100 years, recently bringing in record earnings for 16 years in a row and helping to provide ND with a low unemployment rate, state budget surpluses, and a thriving economy. In 2019 alone, the BND had earnings of $169 million. Public Banks are currently being explored by at least two dozen cities and states across the country. And just last year, California passed legislation that allows for the creation of up to 10 public banks.
If you agree, contact our legislators and offer your support. For more information on a public bank, visit the website for Alliance for Local Economic Prosperity www.aflep.org. Retake Our Democracy provides contact information for our elected officials.
Ta-Nehisi Coates Offers His Always Wise Insights into Racial Justice in America
Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of my favorite commentators and authors. This interview by Chris Hayes is an hour long, but ever so worth your time. It was conducted on January 7, the day after white racists stormed the capitol and just two days after Georgia delivered a stunning double victory and a slim Democratic hold on the Senate. When you click play, there is about 10-15 seconds where the screen remains black, then a fragment comment from Coates that caused me to wonder if the interview was marred, but then Chris Hayes begins 20 seconds in with an intro placing the interview in its January 7 context. You will be stunned by Coates’ initial observations and there, as usual, Coates’ commentary is threaded with insight informed by his deep understanding of America and its fundamentally racist roots. Great interview.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne
- Daniel A. Ivey-Soto (D), Chair, 505-397-8830, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Katy M. Duhigg (D), Vice Chair, 505-397-8823, email@example.com
- Stuart Ingle (R), Ranking Member, 505-986-4702, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Gregory A. Baca (R), 505-986-4877, email@example.com
- Linda M. Lopez (D), 505-397-8833, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mark Moores (R), 505-986-4856, email@example.com
- Bill B. O’Neill (D), 505-397-8838, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jerry Ortiz Y Pino (D), 505-397-8839, email@example.com
- Cliff R. Pirtle (R), 505-986-4369, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mimi Stewart (D), 505-397-8853, email@example.com
- Peter Wirth (D), 505-397-8855, firstname.lastname@example.org
Categories: Local-State Government & Legislation