Public Bank Resolution Passes In Most Towns That Consider It

Mar 5, 2014

Unofficial results indicate most communities that took up a non-binding resolution calling on the legislature to establish a public bank approved it.  Fifteen approved the non-binding resolution.

It appears it was voted down in four towns.

The legislature is considering a bill that would make the Vermont Economic Development Authority a state bank.  The idea is to begin by depositing 10 percent of the state’s money now in large global banks into VEDA where it could be used to help finance loans for public projects.

Supporters say eventually they’d like to see all state money deposited in a public bank.

So far the idea hasn’t gained much official traction, and the state treasurer has warned that it’s too risky.

The resolution is seen as a way to light a fire under legislators, although only a small number of  towns considered it.

A state bank isn’t an easy concept to explain.

In Rochester, where the resolution was passed, there were few comments but there was clearly confusion over how a state bank would work and whether it might affect individual checking and savings accounts.

“This is not a question of retail banking,” explained Rochester resident Bruce Marshall who helped put the resolution on the town meeting warning. “This is a question of where the state puts its deposits and what we do with those deposits and who collects interest on those deposits.”

Those who support the resolution stressed the widespread mistrust of the large global banks in the wake of the recession as a reason to keep state money in a public bank.

But one counter argument heard at some meetings was skepticism about the state’s ability to operate a bank.

Unofficially, towns that approved the resolution include: Bakersfield, Craftsbury, Enosburg, Marshfield, Montgomery, Montpelier Plainfield, Putney, Randolph, Rochester, Royalton, Ryegate, Tunbridge, Warren, Waitsfield.

The resolution was voted down in Marlboro, Barnet and Fayston and Greensboro.

Although on the warning, it was not taken up in Berlin.