Calls and emails in support of H3543 needed!

Good news! H3543 has been moved to the Joint Committee on Financial Services. We have an historic opportunity to pass legislation to start the first state public bank in the U.S. since 1919!

H3543, creating a Massachusetts public infrastructure bank, will give Commonwealth cities and towns an economical alternative to fund infrastructure projects. With twenty other States and cities pursuing public banks as well, we hope such a move will also strengthen their efforts.

Lower-cost financing means that cities and towns will have more money for education, vital services, and local quality of life amenities. Your city or town can save as much as 35%-50% on the cost of a new school, bridge, water treatment facility, health and public safety IT systems, agriculture, forestry and accessibility improvements, bike lanes, or other projects.

It is also a forward-looking green bill that will enable towns and cities to prepare for and mitigate the consequences of climate change. The bank does all this, whenever invited, in partnership with local, community banks and credit unions. There is no competition with local banks as the Massachusetts Infrastructure Bank is not a retail bank and handles only public money.

“Hold on” some might say, “then won’t my state taxes go up?” This might be true to support a revolving loan fund (sometimes erroneously called a “bank”) that will require re-appropriations to expand. But new taxes are not needed for a chartered, infrastructure public bank that will achieve profitability within two to three years and then use these profits to increase support for needed projects.

The Massachusetts Public Bank will be set up to serve the needs of all Commonwealth residents, be insulated from political influence, and be independently and regularly audited. The Massachusetts Infrastructure Bank will offer secure protection for public deposits, as it will never invest speculatively in derivatives. Its fiduciary responsibility is to the people of Massachusetts.

Please take a moment to contact the House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Financial Services Committee listed below. Other members of the committee are listed as well, so if you are a constituent, please call them as well.

While we have legislative support, we only have 10 days to influence it being reported favorably out of the Committee. So please, go for it! Make a call or send an email today.

Here’s a script:
I’m writing to ask you to ensure that H3543, creating the Massachusetts Infrastructure Bank, is reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Financial Services. Our municipalities and taxpayers need reliable, cost-effective financing that allows us to plan for the future, improves our daily lives and puts people to work across the Commonwealth.

Chairs of the Joint Financial Services Committee

House Chair: Representative Aaron Michlewitz (617) 722-2220  Aaron.M.Michlewitz@mahouse.gov

Senate Chair: Senator James Eldridge  (617) 722-1120  James.Eldridge@masenate.gov

Other Members of the Joint Financial Services Committee–if you are a constituent, please call or email!

Vice Chair: Representative Michael J. Finn  (617) 722-2220  Michael.Finn@mahouse.gov

Vice Chair: Senator Eric Lesser  (617) 722-1291  eric.lesser@masenate.gov

Senator Joseph A. Boncore  (617) 722-1634  Joseph.Boncore@masenate.gov
Senator John F. Keenan  (617) 722-1494  John.Keenan@masenate.gov
Senator Sal N. DiDomenico  (617) 722-1650  Sal.DiDomenico@masenate.gov
Senator Viriato M. deMacedo  (617) 722-1330  Vinny.deMacedo@masenate.gov
Representative Thomas M. Stanley  (617) 722-2230  Thomas.Stanley@mahouse.gov
Representative Chris Walsh  (617) 722-2070  Chris.Walsh@mahouse.gov
Representative Marjorie C. Decker  (617) 722-2692  Marjorie.Decker@mahouse.gov
Representative Christine P. Barber  (617) 722-2210  Christine.Barber@mahouse.gov
Representative Michael S. Day  (617-722-2210  Michael.Day@mahouse.gov
Representative Jose F. Tosado  (617) 722-2464  Jose.Tosado@mahouse.gov
Representative Daniel Cahill  (617-722-2020  Daniel.Cahill@mahouse.gov
Representative F. Jay Barrows  (617) 722-2488  F.JayBarrows@mahouse.gov
Representative Shawn Dooley  (617) 722-2810  Shawn.Dooley@mahouse.gov

You may also want to let your own state legislators know about your support for the bill. You can find their contact info here.

Finally, contact your mayor or town manager. You may wish to remind your mayor that the current bond market charges 4.5% or 5% bond interest for AAA rated cities and towns. If a town has over 6% of its annual budget allocated to debt service, they are often charged exorbitant rates of 13% and up. This raiding of public treasuries must stop. Why should we taxpayers pay more for necessary improvements to our lives?

Ask your local public officials to please contact their Representatives and Senators and members of the Joint Financial Services Committee asking them to favorably consider H3543.

And if you have questions about this bill, please contact us!

 

Bill update

Our bill has been reported out of the  and sent to the Joint Committee on Financial Services. No hearing date scheduled yet! If your representative or senator sits on the committee, please contact them in support of the bill. We are also happy to come out to speak to local organizations about our bill and how a public bank could benefit Massachusetts.

Transportation problems? Why not try a public bank?

Massachusetts suffered an embarrassing drop in the US News and World Report best state ranking last week, especially so because we blew it so badly in just one thing: transportation. We are a dismal 45th out of 50, and to make it worse, it’s a score not just determined by resident surveys, but also backed up by another recent poll.

The MassINC Polling Group, working for the Barr Foundation found that improving Massachusetts highways, roads, and bridges was the top priority for respondents, ahead of improving education or lowering taxes. Since 80% of respondents drive alone as their primary means of transportation, with about 20% commuting between 30 minutes and an hour each day, addressing transportation issues would have some substantial economic and social benefits.

The poll found voters want more funding for both public transportation and roads but didn’t broadly back any one mechanism for generating the revenue needed. A change in state law to permit cities and towns to put funding measures for transportation on the ballot had strong support. Support was also high for adding electronic tolling to more state highways, but only if tolls were used to reduce congestion in the regions where they were collected.

A public infrastructure bank, such as our bill would institute, doesn’t yet have a high enough profile to make it on to polls as a possible solution to state transportation funding problems. (North Dakota, the only state with its own bank, topped the US News rankings for quality of life, and came in second for both fiscal stability and infrastructure.)

We think a public infrastructure bank could make a big difference in increasing the availability of funds for roads, schools, public buildings, recreational and emergency service facilities, and even climate change mitigation methods, and these polls clearly indicate that our state can use all the help it can get. But the MassINC poll also shows that state residents support addressing problems regionally, meaning that we don’t just need to sell the idea of a state bank, we need to ensure that it operates transparently, takes local preferences for solving transportation problems into account, and works for all regions of Massachusetts.