Oregon Legislator Calls for Shift of Public Funds to Credit Unions

Rep. Jefferson Smith, Dem.-Portland, who is running for mayor of Portland, recently sent this message to his supporters:

“As the world watches the 99% movement take shape, many of us are wondering what we can do to invest in Main Street more than Wall Street. I’m writing to ask you to join me because there is something modest and tangible that Portland can and should do—and with your help, Portland will do it. Today I posted on the Huffington Post on the importance of putting public funds into credit unions. Next week, we are delivering a letter to encourage the City of Portland move a meaningful portion of the City’s holdings from banks to local credit unions in order to kick-start a credit union depository usable by any local government in Oregon.

“In 2010, we passed a law in the Oregon Legislature to authorize local governments to use nonprofit credit unions in lieu of national banks. We did this for good reason—credit unions are as trustworthy as banks. And, when compared to the titans who participated in bringing our economy to the brink, our local credit unions—governed by local boards of volunteer directors—are in many respects more trustworthy.

“Our proposal is not some assault on Wall Street—indeed, our modest local government resources won’t break or make big banks. At its core, our proposal is about how we operate as a city and how we try to grow our economy. Not-for-profit financial institutions, like credit unions, don’t pay boards or stockholders, meaning they are able to offer depositors advantageous interest rates, and a credit union’s earnings are more likely to stay within the local area.

“There is something at stake here. Our generally humble home has played its most important historical role by leading the country in new ideas. We have been willing to answer history’s questions with a different set of answers—from the bottle bill to transit-oriented development, from vote by mail to the Oregon Health Plan, from the minimum wage to public beaches.

“A modest credit union shift is admittedly more humble than those achievements; it’s a smaller thing about a bigger thing. This century’s big question is figuring out an economic future that is prosperous, sustainable, and fair. Let’s help in a small way to answer that question. Let leaders know that you support shifting some of our national bank deposits into local credit unions and that you support the creation of the Credit Union Depository Pool.”

2012 Election
Caddy McKeown, a Democrat from Coos Bay, has filed to run for House District 9. McKeown intends to replace Rep. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, who is running for the Senate District 5, in a seat being vacated by Sen. Joanne Verger. Roblan and Verger have publicly supported McKeown for this position.

Brent Barton has announced an interest in running for House District 40, the seat currently held by Rep. Dave Hunt, who is leaving to run for Clackamas County Chair. Barton was previously a member of the Oregon House in District 51 but gave up his seat to unsuccessfully run for the Senate in 2010. Barton has since moved.

Gail Whitsett has filed to run for House District 56, the seat being vacated by Rep. Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls, at the end of the term. She is the wife of current state Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls.

Oregon Economy
The Joint Revenue Committee will meet on Nov. 17 to hear a report from the state economists regarding the state of the Oregon General Fund. The revenue report is expected to remain flat or decline, which may require a special session in December 2011. A U.S. Department of Labor study has shown that Oregon overpaid $392 million in unemployment benefits over a three-year period (2008-2011). This money is paid out on earnings by Oregon employers, not taxpayer dollars. The Oregon Employment Department investigates for fraudulent cases, but according to The Oregonian, the department’s 20 investigators have carried “up to 400 caseloads apiece, up from 150 before the recession,” and are too understaffed to properly monitor the system.



Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: mhalvorson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News.