A years-long effort to establish a public bank in New Mexico took its first step forward Thursday, on a 5-4 vote in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee. In past years, legislators had been unwilling to even study the issue, given the fierce opposition from community bankers from throughout the state.
That opposition remains, and was bolstered by the fiscal-impact report on the bill, in which state officials from several agencies raised questions about it. House Bill 236 would appropriate $100 million to start the Public Bank of New Mexico, and create a new 11-person board that would provide oversight and hire the CEO to manage the bank. Supporters said it would keep more of our money in the state and would make more funds available for lending.
The public bank would not be like other banks. It would not have locations throughout the state and would not make loans directly to consumers. It would instead partner with existing banks to make more money available for loans.