Oregon’s Working Families Party is continuing to push what has become a signature issue, the formation of an Oregon State Bank. The idea that a financial entity can be set up to work with community banks and small business to bring jobs to Oregon is long overdue. The Oregon State Bank as proposed would invest in Oregon, not Wall Street.
The idea is modeled after the existing Bank of North Dakota, which has assisted residents of North Dakota for decades. When the main thrust of a bank is turned from generating Wall Street profits to fostering a better business environment for the working people of a state, it’s a wonder more states aren’t rushing to adopt similar policies.
The Oregon State Bank would be publicly owned, and is under consideration by the 2011 legislature. The proposal put forth by the Working Families Party creates a bank that would partner with local banks and credit unions to help meet the financial needs of Oregonians.
One thing slowing down economic recovery in Oregon and around America is the lack of credit being circulated. Big banks are sitting on billions, some of it TARP money from the bank bailouts. Instead of loaning that money out in ways to grow the economy, they are building their own portfolios, stock options, and bonus payouts.
Funds flowing through the Oregon State Bank, instead of lining Wall Street pockets with big bonuses, could be used to invest in education, home ownership, small business creation, and the general welfare of Oregonians. How can anyone be against that?
Working Familes Party isn’t the only organization fighting for an Oregon State Bank. On February 1st, WFP joined Oregon Action and the Main Street Alliance of Oregon in hosting a forum at New Song Church in Portland. The event was well attended and informative.
Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler wants an “Oregon solution.” He proposes a “virtual state bank” instead of actual brick and mortar builidings. He doesn’t see the need for institutions which might end up competing with community banks and credit unions as much as helping them. It’s worth exploring, and may ulitmately provide all the benefits of a state bank with a lower price tag.
Wheeler says about his idea, writing at Oregonlive.com
“I recently circulated a framework at the Capitol for what I call a ‘virtual economic development bank.’ It appears to have broad support among legislators, advocates for a new bank function, and also the banking and credit union community.”
Either way, Oregon needs changes in the banking system. If we do end up builidng physical banks as part of an Oregon State Bank, or we manage resources through a virtual bank, Oregonians deserve people oriented banking. Contact your member of the legislature and urge them to support banking reform for Oregon.