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By Dee Gamble, Santa Fe New Mexican | March 2, 2021

Thanks to Milan Simonich for highlighting the bills (House Bill 236 and Senate Bill 313) to create a New Mexico Public Bank and promoting public discussion (“Public bank bill belongs on scrapheap,” Ringside Seat, Feb. 21). However, the New Mexico Public Bank would not replace the New Mexico Finance Authority, it would complement, not duplicate or compete with it. More importantly, the public bank, as a chartered bank, would grow money (yes, “grows as it goes”), which the New Mexico Finance Authority cannot do. The bills do not create a bank that lends directly to individuals, as the Bank of North Dakota does for college loans. Rather, it would partner with community banks and credit unions to finance loans to small businesses and entities including municipalities and tribes for underfunded community development investments.

If financial investments are just fine as they are, why is New Mexico at the bottom of all the measures for well-being? New Mexico communities have many unmet needs, and it’s high time we do something bold that is successfully functioning elsewhere and is currently being considered by dozens of other states.

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