Advocates for the formation of a Vermont Public Bank are bringing the issue before local town officials across the state. The group Vermonters for a New Economy is organizing the effort, which it's calling its Town Meeting campaign.
The effort aims to place a non-binding resolution on town meeting warnings throughout Vermont in March, encouraging the Legislature to form a public bank. The following resolution was brought before the Barnet Select Board last month:
Whereas the establishment of a Public Bank in Vermont will help towns reduce the local tax burden by offering low cost bonds for public works and a depository for their accounts with competitive interest,
Whereas a Public Bank that makes loans and investments in Vermont’s people and our economy will help create jobs, income, and economic security for all Vermonters,
We call on the State Legislature to create a Public Bank for Vermont that enhances the work of the Vermont Economic Development Authority, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, the Municipal Bond Bank, and Vermont chartered community banks and credit unions by accepting deposits form the state and municipal governments and making loan programs available for students, homeowners, municipalities and enterprises to make Vermont economically stable, self-reliant, and successful.
Proponents are asking local officials to put the resolution on the warning for Town Meeting. However some towns, such as Barnet, are requiring a petition signed by at least 5 percent of the town's legal voters be turned in before adding the resolution as another item of Town Meeting day business.
The idea to study forming a public bank is not new. In 2010 the Vermont Legislative Joint Fiscal Office conducted a preliminary review of creating a public bank, based on the Bank of North Dakota model. And Washington County Progressive Senator Anthony Pollina said he will continue to push for further study of the matter this legislative session.
Meanwhile, time is running out to gather signatures to get any measure on Vermont Town Meeting Day warnings. State law dictates all petitions must be filed by January 24.