The Sacramento Bee – October 4, 2021. California set a course to offer the nation’s first zero-cost, public option platform for personal financial services, under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Assembly Bill 1177, authored by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, calls for the state to conduct a market analysis of a state-backed program that would give Californians a public option for banking services like debit cards. The study would aim to determine with that service would be viable within six years. The commission must complete the analysis by July 1, 2024. Then, the Legislature could decide whether to launch a public banking program.
Black and Latino families are more likely to lack access to commercial banks than white and Asian households, a trend that Santiago aims to reverse with a public bank. “Creating a public option for banking and closing the racial wealth gap isn’t only a moral imperative, but is necessary to foster greater financial security for all of our communities. This bill is a much-needed step to address the needs of the unbanked and underbanked and moves us closer to building a more equitable economy after the pandemic,” Santiago wrote in a statement urging lawmakers to pass his bill.
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