Politicians Take Note: Citizens Speak Out on Public Banking & Priorities

Arizonans for a New Economy

Co-Director Jim Hannley addressing a public banking forum at the Mountain Vista Unitarian Universalist Church in January 2015.

As we travel around Arizona and present our public banking dog and pony show, we have been gathering data and supporter names for our website and for our email list.

What have we learned from our supporters? People understand the need for low-cost loans, they want to build our public education system, and they don’t trust Wall Street.  Paying back Arizona schools and fully funding public education got the most votes as the state’s #1 priority.

Part of our presentation is based upon the Top 10 Ways Arizona’s Economy Would Benefit from Public Banking. In order to gauge the public’s priorities, we ask forum attendees to identify their top three priorities from the list of 10, and we invite them to write in comments and tell us what they believe is the “biggest problem facing our state.”  This is an ongoing project, but the preliminary data are fascinating. As I said in an earlier post about our supporters, you get it!

Of the 29 completed surveys to date, three ideas each received votes from nearly half of all attendees. To date, the top three priorities are:

  1. providing low-cost loans to businesses, entrepreneurs, and farmers (16 votes);
  2. paying back the schools and fully funding public education (15 votes); and
  3. protecting taxpayer funds from risky Wall Street investments (14 votes)

In the second tier of data, financing infrastructure projects (10) and strengthening community banks (9) were also important. Below is the whole data table. Note that some people didn’t rank the items and only checked them. Their votes are in the “x (no rank)” column. Only three items on each survey were counted; extra votes per person were discarded. Anonymous surveys were discarded to ensure each person got only one chance to vote. (Two caveats to the data: although no demographics were captured, most of the attendees were white and over 40. Since this is an ongoing project, we hope to broaden our reach.)

Top 10 Ways Public Banking Can Boost
Arizona’s Economy
#1 #2 #3 x
(no rank)
Finance infrastructure projects 2 3 2 3 10
Create good-paying jobs 3 3
Provide low-cost loans to businesses, entrepreneurs, and farmers 4 5 4 3 16
Strengthen local community banks 4 2 2 1 9
Offer low-cost loans to Arizona college students 2 3 1 6
Excuse or re-finance personal debt (ie, student loans, underwater mortgages) 3 2 5
Pay back the schools and fully fund public education 8 2 2 3 15
Act as an incubator for university-based spin-off businesses 1 1 1 3
Protect taxpayer funds from risky Wall Street investments 3 5 3 3 14
Create a nonpartisan economic solution to generate revenue and help business and people, without raising taxes 1 1 3 5

Write-In Comments

The write-in comments are also very telling, since there are ongoing themes.

In your opinion, what is the biggest problem facing our state?

“Protect our universities, farms, people, educators from being bought out by corporate greed, so people  and state can be served.”

“Climate change.”

“Lack of a common vision of what is best for everybody.”

“Too many people think the only solution is growth, believe that it must come from outside and ignore local needs, opportunities. Too much emphasis on export– need to look more inward.” [Emphasis is the author’s]

“1% vs 99%. Low wages. Economic inequality. Anti-immigrant attitudes.”

“#4 = We must lower the legal interest rates. Payday loans etc are killing our economy.”

“Climate change and fossil fuel use. Water and hot it is handled economically.”

“Regressive tax rate (financial base). Well, #1 problem is cuts to our social safety net.”


“Lack of recognition of and action on the impacts of climate change on our State’s environment (in every way) and failure to move off fossil fuels and to clean safe renewables.”

“Wall Street Power.”  [Emphasis is the author’s]

“Having Goldwater Institute mentality instead of a Keynsian approach.”

“Short term decisions without good long term plan. Decisions based on ideology without thinking through consequences.”

“Education, jobs, and a punitive legislature that does not act in OUR best interest.”  [Emphasis is the author’s]

“Deplorable status of public education system in Arizona.”

“Our debts.”

“Our ALEC controlled state legislature.”


“Luddite politicians.”

“State legislature/governor veto.”

“Lack of competition in business.”

“Avoiding Depressions such as 2008.”


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