California Public Banking Option Act (AB 1177) Passes the State Legislature


By Trinity Tran, Rick Girling, and Steve Sittig

Today the California State Legislature approved landmark legislation guaranteeing universal free banking access to all Californians. AB 1177 sets into motion the creation of the CalAccount program guaranteeing all California residents access to basic banking services without fees or penalties. The California Public Banking Option Act addresses the inequities in financial services acutely felt by communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic and recession, inequalities such as discrimination, predatory lending, and vicious spirals of debt.

Californians are demanding banking reform because Wall Street banks have historically failed low-income communities of color. The State Legislature’s approval of AB 1177 paves the way for a banking system centered on people instead of profits. In just a few months, AB 1177 has garnered extraordinary support in the effort to assure that all Californians gain access to banking services. The California Public Banking Alliance, along with AB 1177 co-sponsors, SEIU California and the California Reinvestment Coalition, gained endorsements from over 250 labor, community, and environmental justice groups to extend financial services to unbanked and underbanked residents. This broad support paid off handsomely as the legislation moved through the State Legislature and now heads to the Governor’s desk.

A public option for essential financial services can replace exploitative alternatives to traditional banking, reducing the wealth gap and helping Californians to avoid catastrophic debt. As many AB 1177 supporters have explained, it’s very expensive to be poor. Minimum balance requirements, late fees, overdraft fees, higher interest rate charges for loans to the financially insecure, as well as check cashing and money order fees add up to substantial financial burdens placed on those least able to pay. As Mayron Payes testified to the State Assembly, “A lot of street vendors don’t have a banking relationship because of the high fees and couldn’t maintain the minimum balance. Many of them are operating on a cash basis and couldn’t open a bank account.” This law would provide a banking card to all residents who request one that will enable them to have access to free banking services essential to everyday living.

There is a broad basis of support for this needed financial reform. The state’s largest union, SEIU California with 700,000 members, is the primary proponent. Other labor unions such as the California Labor Federation and UFCW Western States Union have joined in. Community activist groups are showing strong support. Indivisible CA: StateStrong and chapters throughout the state are mobilizing their members to advocate for AB 1177. Environmental activists such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace International see the benefits of making financial services available to all.

California’s Treasurer Fiona Ma expressed her support for this legislation that will create “a level playing field for all Californians to have fair access to basic financial services.” Additionally, four Mayors have endorsed the California Public Banking Option Act including Mayor Robert Garcia of Long Beach, Mayor Tim Sandoval of Pomona, Mayor Jennifer Stark of Claremont, and Mayor G. Muir Davis of La Verne. Significantly, the city councils of some of the largest California cities, Los Angeles, Burbank, Berkeley and San Francisco have also signed on.

Eighteen California Senators and Assemblymembers have joined lead author Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) as authors and co-authors of the Public Banking Option Act. With strong support from hundreds of labor and community activists, as well as legislators up and down the state, final passage of AB 1177 is likely as the coalition works to ensure that Governor Gavin Newsom will sign this bill into law in the near future.

The California Public Banking Option Act is supported by over 250 racial, economic, and climate justice groups, faith-based organizations, businesses, labor unions, and elected officials. Easing the way for all Californians to participate in the California economy benefits us all.

California Public Banking Alliance (Co-Sponsor)
SEIU California (Co-Sponsor)
California Reinvestment Coalition (Co-Sponsor)
Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE)
Active San Gabriel Valley
Alameda County Democratic Party
All Rise Alameda
Alliance for a Just Recovery, Sonoma County
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment Action (ACCE)
Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program
Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII)
Black Arts Movement Business District Community Development Corp. of Oakland (BAMBD, CDC)
Bay Area-System Change Not Climate Change
Beneficial State Foundation
Building the Base Face to Face
California Asset Building Coalition
California Association for Micro Enterprise Opportunity (CAMEO)
California Coalition for Worker Power
California Community Land Trust Network
California Democratic Party
California Democratic Party Delegates — 204 Delegates
California Employment Lawyers Association
California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO
California Low-Income Consumer Federation
California Progressive Alliance
California River Watch
Center for Farmworker Families
Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR)
City and County of San Francisco
City of Berkeley
City of Burbank
City of Long Beach
City of Los Angeles
Climate Protection and Recovery Fund
Cloverdale Indivisible
CodePink Women for Peace
Committee for Better Banks
Communities for a Better Environment (CBE)
Community Financial Resources
Community RePower Movement
Consumer Federation of California
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
Contra Costa Move On
Converging Storms Action Network
Cooperation Humboldt
Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union
Courage California
Culver City Vice Mayor Daniel Lee
DSA Ecosocialists
Democratic Socialists of America, San Francisco
Democrats of the Desert
Dreams for Change
Duende Consulting
El Cerrito Progressives
Feel the Bern Democratic Club, Los Angeles
Feel the Bern San Fernando Valley
Feminists in Action
Fight For 15
Fight for 15 LA
Fight for 15 NorCal
Fossil Free California
Fresno County Democratic Party
Friends Committee on Legislation of California
Friends of Public Banking Santa Rosa
Friends of the Climate Action Plan
Friends of the Earth U.S.
Green Lining Institute
Green Party Humboldt County
Green Party of Santa Clara County
Greenpeace International
Ground Game LA
Hanmi Bank
Haven Neighborhood Services
Hillcrest Indivisible
HOPE for All: Helping Others Prosper Economically
Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA)
Hull Professionals
Inclusive Action for the City
Independent Indivisible
Indivisible 30/Keep Sherman Accountable
Indivisible 36
Indivisible 39
Indivisible 41
Indivisible 43
Indivisible 52
Indivisible Auburn
Indivisible Beach Cities
Indivisible CA -7
Indivisible California Green Team
Indivisible California: StateStrong
Indivisible East Bay
Indivisible Lorin
Indivisible Los Angeles
Indivisible Marin
Indivisible OC 46
Indivisible of Sherman Oaks
Indivisible Petaluma
Indivisible Sacramento
Indivisible San Bernardino
Indivisible San Diego — Persist
Indivisible San Francisco
Indivisible San Jose
Indivisible Santa Barbara
Indivisible Sausalito
Indivisible Sebastopol
Indivisible SF Peninsula and CA-14
Indivisible Simi Valley Porter Ranch
Indivisible Sonoma County
Indivisible South Bay
Indivisible South Bay LA
Indivisible Stanislaus
Indivisible Ventura
Indivisible Windsor
Justicia Digna
LA Forward
Lassen County Democratic Central Committee
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of San Francisco Bay Area
Liberty Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution
LITE Initiatives
Livermore Indivisible
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)
Los Angeles City Councilmember Kevin de León
Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price
Los Angeles City Councilmember Nithya Raman
Los Angeles County Democratic Party
Malonga Arts Residents Association
March and Rally Los Angeles
Marin Sunshine Realty
Mayor Pro Tem G. Muir Davis, City of La Verne
Mayor Robert Garcia, City of Long Beach
Mayor Tim Sandoval, City of Pomona
Mayor Jennifer Stark, City of Claremont
McGee-Spaulding Neighbors in Action
Media Alliance
Mendocino County Public Banking Coalition
Mendocino Women’s Political Coalition
Mill Valley Community Action Network
Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. (MoCaFi)
Mothers Out Front CA
Mountain Progressives
National Domestic Workers Alliance
NextGen California
New Economics for Women
North Bay Jobs with Justice
North Bay Labor Council
Northridge Indivisible
Occupy Sonoma Valley
Orchard City Indivisible
Orinda Progressive Action Alliance
Our Revolution Long Beach
Partnership for Working Families
Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County
People for Public Banking Central Coast
PODER (People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights)
Pomona City Councilmember John Nolte, District 1
Progress Noe Valley
Progressive Alliance of the Inland Empire
Progressive Asian Network for Action (PANA)
Prosperity Now
Public Bank East Bay
Public Bank Long Beach
Public Bank Los Angeles (PBLA)
Public Bank Pomona Valley
Public Banking Institute
Public Counsel
Public Law Center
Ready to Help LA
Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center River Watch
Romero Institute
Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment
San Diego County Democratic Party
San Fernando Valley Young Democrats
San Francisco Berniecrats
San Francisco Board of Supervisors
San Francisco County Treasurer José Cisneros
San Francisco Public Bank Coalition
San Francisco Supervisor Dean Preston
San Jose Nikkei Resisters
San Mateo Labor Council
Sanctuary Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz Climate Action Network
Santa Cruz County Democratic Party
Santa Cruz Indivisible
SEIU 1021
SEIU 721
SEIU International
SFV Indivisible
Shoreline Study Center
Silicon Valley Rising Action
Sister-to-Sister 2
SoCal 350 Climate Action
Social Eco Education
Sonoma County Climate Activist Network (SoCoCAN)
Sonoma County Climate Mobilization
Sonoma County Democratic Party
Sonoma County Pachamama Alliance
South Bay Progressive Alliance
South Sacramento Seniors for Systemic Equality
Southern Poverty Law Center
Strategic Actions for a Just Economy
Strike Debt Bay Area
Sunrise Movement LA
Tehama Indivisible
Thai Community Development Center
The Climate Center
The Cobb Institute
The Future Left
The Greenlining Institute
Together We Will — San José
Together We Will Contra Costa
Together We Will/Indivisible — Los Gatos
UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) Western States Council
UFCW Local 5
UFCW Local 770
United Farm Workers
UXO Architects
Vallejo-Benicia Indivisible
Venice Resistance
We The People SD
Western Center on Law & Poverty
Wild Solar
Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council
Women For: Orange County
Women’s Alliance Los Angeles
Working Group for Emergency Climate Action Now
Working Partnerships USA
Yolo Indivisible
350 Butte County
350 Chico
350 Conejo / San Fernando Valley
350 Marin
350 Silicon Valley
350 Sonoma
350 South Bay Los Angeles

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago, author
Assemblymember David Chiu, author
Assemblymember Ash Kalra, author
Assemblymember Alex Lee, author
Assemblymember Wendy Carillo, author
Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, author
Assemblymember Mike Gipson, author
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, author
Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, author
Assemblymember Phil Ting, author
Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, author
Senator Maria Elena Durazo, co-author
Senator Ben Hueso, co-author
Senator Lena Gonzalez, co-author
Senator Josh Newman, co-author
Senator Scott Wiener, co-author
Assemblymember Laura Friedman, co-author
Assemblymember Luz Rivas, co-author
Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, co-author



California Public Banking Alliance

CPBA is a coalition of public banking activists in California working to create socially and environmentally responsible city and regional public banks.