Lawmakers Want Vermont To Create State Bank

01/20/12 6:34AM By Bob Kinzel
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(Host) A group of lawmakers wants Vermont to become the second state in the country to create a state bank.

They believe a state bank would strengthen the Vermont economy by making more capital available to small businesses.

VPR's Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The creation of a state bank has been a priority for Washington County senator Anthony Pollina for many years. Pollina has studied the operations of the only state bank in the country, it's located in North Dakota, and he thinks Vermont would benefit from having a similar operation.

Pollina wants to take most of the money that the state temporarily invests in large out of state investment banks and redirect these funds to a Vermont state bank that would focus on making low interest loans to small businesses and perhaps even underwrite student loans.

(Pollina) "Doesn't make any sense for us to be sending Vermont's hard earned tax dollars to some bank on Wall Street which couldn't care less about Vermont or Vermonters when we could keep that money here in the state of Vermont where we would have more control over it and therefore more of it would be invested here in the state."

(Kinzel) Burlington Rep. Suzi Wizowaty is the lead sponsor of a companion bill in the House. She says the plan shouldn't been seen as a criticism of Vermont banks but she thinks a state bank could offer additional benefits to the small business community.        

(Wizowaty) "There's a reason that we are one of the better economies in the country at the moment. We're not in financial trouble here not nearly as much as almost every other state in the country but might there be an opportunity here with the state bank and that's what this bill will answer."

(Kinzel) Senator Pollina is also the lead sponsor of a bill that calls for a new way of examining the social and environmental well being of the state.

It's called the Genuine Progress Indicator and it ranks how the state is doing in several dozen categories.

Pollina thinks adopting the GPI will help influence future budget debates at the Statehouse.

(Pollina) "Essentially the economy is going through some very major permanent changes. More people live in poverty fewer people could afford a home, people's retirement funds are disappearing and good jobs are vanishing so we need new tools in order to measure the strength of our economy."

(Kinzel) The GPI bill is being reviewed by the Senate Government Operations committee and Pollina is optimistic that the panel will support the legislation in the coming weeks.

For VPR News, I'm Bob Kinzel.

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