Meeting Minutes from InspireSeattle Social on May 21, 2011

The Washington Investment Trust

After the great financial crisis that led not only the United States, but also most of the world into The Great Recession , it s time for some significant changes with banking. A bank of WA would be modeled after the bank of North Dakota. The Bank of North Dakota (BND) has helped North Dakota prosper even during these recession times. The bank is conservative and did not participate in risky behavior. North Dakota is the only state in the Union that is not suffering a deficit budget and they have very low unemployment.

Washington State is running huge deficits that cause public programs to be cut, negatively impacting Washington s citizens. We need more available state funds. The Office of the State Treasury uses tax monies now for short term investments in big banks, Federal treasury bonds, Fanny Mae etc. Instead the monies would be invested in long term loans to business here in WA State. Currently, despite record low interest rates, Commercial banks are lending even less.

The plan is to introduce a bill in the Washington State Legislature to charter a Public Bank, the Bank of Washington State. This is a Public, not for profit bank. A Bank of Washington State would have the ability to self-fund capital projects, keep money local, make small business loans and provide new credit sources. The Mission of the bank will be written into the law establishing the bank: Develop agriculture, industry and commerce in Washington State.

By using the deposits of the bank to make long term loans to small business and helping small farmers, jobs will be created; this in turn will increase the revenue tax base of the state. There is a great deal of public outrage over bailouts and banker bonuses. And banks on the national level have not been adequately regulated to prevent future risky lending and investments. All tax moneys and fees of Washington will be deposited in the bank. The bank would be a member of the Federal Reserve so that it could have access to the cheapest money available through the Federal Reserve Discount Window.

The chartering of a public state bank will not solve all the problems of the recession. However, there is a credit problem in Washington State at the present time and the bank will get credit flowing to where it is needed. Like the BND the bank of Washington State would partner with community banks and credit unions in their loan practices. The BND is well thought of by banks in that state and acts as a mini-Fed where banks can go for low cost loans. Profit from the Bank of WA state, like the BND, could be redirected back into the state budget to meet our urgent shortfall.

The effort to establish the Washington Investment Trust -- discontinued earlier in this current legislative session in Olympia -- is experiencing some degree of rejuvenation. A new budget-related bill, HB 2040, has been introduced and has already had a hearing. Like the original bill, HB 2040 creates a task force to develop a means to use the state's operating cash to finance public infrastructure, student loans, and economic development, and make recommendations to the Legislature on specified topics by December 1, 2011. Unlike the previous bill it does not mention the WA Investment Trust, or require the task force to look at this idea. It addresses the concerns of the State Treasurer that sidetracked the previous bill. Bob Hasegawa is suggesting that people support this bill, and it is hoped that the task force will look at the idea of a state bank and could recommend that one be created. Overall, it is a step in the direction of fulfilling some of the purposes of the Washington Investment Trust, formerly known as the state bank.


Guest Speakers:

Bob Hasegawa, Washington State Legislator from the 11th District, is a lifelong resident of Beacon Hill in Seattle. Bob is a longtime labor and social justice activist. He led many workers struggles winning top wages and benefits for working families and retirees, and he collaborated in many social justice struggles to protect civil rights, democracy, the environment, and our constitutional rights. As a union/community organizer, Bob has long sought to build bridges between social justice organizations, particularly those serving the labor, environmental, religious, and Asian Pacific Islander communities. He has served on the national executive board of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA) as well as on the APALA Seattle Chapter Executive Board, King County Labor Council, and other boards of community based organizations. He continues to serve on the Boards of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington, the Japanese American Citizens League, and the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. Since he began representing the 11th Legislative District in 2005, Bob s priorities have centered around serving as a voice for working families, small businesses and disenfranchised communities.

John Repp and Cindy Cole are members of the 34th District Democrats and have been working on legislation for a Public Bank for an extended period with Representative Bob Hasegawa. They are current coordinators for Washington State with a national group, the Public Banking Institute,  


Explore these links to learn more about the advantages of a state-run bank:

Previous meeting minutes


Previous IAN Events


Rep. Bob Hasegawa

John Repp

Cindy Cole






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