Public Banking Bill Heads to Senate in Historic Victory for Economic Justice


News from CA Public Banking Alliance

August 30, 2019

Contacts: Matt Kovac,, (415) 510-9601; Debbie Notkin,, (510) 418-0627

Public Banking Bill Heads to Senate in Historic Victory for Economic Justice

AB 857 advances to full Senate vote after week of big-name endorsements

SACRAMENTO – Today the Public Banking Act (D-Chiu, D-Santiago) passed through its sixth and final committee, the California State Senate Appropriations Committee, in a historic victory for the public banking movement. The bill, AB 857, now heads to a full vote on the Senate floor.

“The momentum for public banking in California is growing by the day,” said Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco). “The public’s money should serve a public purpose instead of lining the pockets of Wall Street investors. This bill brings us closer to that goal.”

The vote positions California to be the first state in the nation to enable city and regional-level public banks as an alternative to predatory Wall Street megabanks. AB 857 empowers local governments to charter democratically-accountable banks rather than depositing taxpayer funds with Wall Street. The only existing public bank in the United States is the Bank of North Dakota, which serves a state population roughly the size of San Francisco.

“Today marks another landmark win for California’s fight to mobilize public revenues to serve public interest,” said Trinity Tran, co-founder of Public Bank LA, a founding member of the California Public Banking Alliance. “We thank Senator Portantino and the Committee for standing with millions across the state representing organized labor, local government, environmental, and community groups in support of AB 857. The Public Banking Act is a crucial step towards maximizing the impact of profits in our local communities instead of maximizing profit for out-of-state big banks.”

The final committee vote comes after a week of endorsements from presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, labor unions, city governments, environmental groups, and Democratic central committees. AB 857 has been endorsed by the California Democratic Party as well as county parties representing Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma.

“We’re fighting for a different banking option, because California has been ground zero for Wall Street’s recklessness,” said Assemblymember Santiago (D-Los Angeles). “AB 857 lays the groundwork for a system that supports the public good over the profits of billionaires.”

Over the past months, labor unions and associations representing over three million workers have endorsed AB 857. This endorsement includes government employees, service workers, postal workers, teachers, lawyers, nurses, and farmworker from 23 organizations across the state.

From San Diego to Eureka, 17 cities and counties have joined with the California Public Banking Alliance in pushing for a yes vote on AB 857. Endorsing cities include Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Richmond.

Thirty environmental and environmental justice organizations across the state also support public banking to divest local governments from Wall Street investments in fossil fuels and reinvest in the solutions communities need to thrive in this time of climate crisis.

AB 857 is sponsored by the California Public Banking Alliance, a network of public banking activists representing 10 cities and regions in the state. Its supporters see the ability to create public banks as a part of the solution to addressing issues of public services, cost-effective green infrastructure, affordable housing, and emergency response. Public banks will provide an equitable means to benefit the millions of Californians who work every day in this important work. The bottom line: a public bank would be mandated to do its lending in areas that support local businesses, create jobs, and respond to pressing local issues.


The California Public Banking Alliance (CPBA) is a coalition of public banking activists in California working to create socially and environmentally responsible city and regional public banks