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Letter: Why Not a Vermont State Bank?

To the Editor:

Currently the vast majority of Vermont tax dollars are deposited in TD Bank (a large Canadian multinational). TD charges fees to handle Vermont’s money. They lend out the money around the world, make a profit on it, and put that in the pockets of their shareholders.

Meanwhile Vermont borrows money from Wall Street banks and pays nearly $80 million a year in interest to fix roads, make renewable energy loans, and support social programs. This year the state has a $20 million budget “challenge” and Vermonters are told the only alternatives are to slash social programs or raise taxes.

But what about that $80 million that goes to Wall Street? What if Vermonters were paying themselves the interest that now goes to Wall Street by issuing bonds to state and municipal governments through a state bank? North Dakota has been doing that successfully for nearly a century. Doesn’t that mean Vermont could balance its budget and then some?

What if a state bank could enhance the work of the Vermont Economic Development Authority, the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, and the Vermont Housing Finance Agency? What if it could help Vermont-chartered community banks and credit unions by accepting deposits from state and municipal governments? What if this could make low interest loan programs available to homeowners, businesses, entrepreneurs, and municipalities?

Transition Five Villages invites you to come find out the details about how you can help create a state bank and a vibrant local economy at a free talk given by Gwen Hallsmith at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at the Bugbee Senior Center on North Main Street in White River Junction.

It is the second presentation in their “Collapse and Opportunity” series. Hallsmith, co-author of Creating Wealth: Growing Local Economies with Local Currencies, will also lead a community discussion. She has been in the news lately as a result of being put on leave and last week fired from her job as Montpelier town planning and community development director after publicly supporting the growing campaign to create a state bank.

Patricia Greene