Dear Editor: We support the important point of your April 7 editorial describing the advantages of a state-run bank: There’s value in controlling a financial institution to keep benefits local.
We encourage investigation of the concept. And we encourage any analysis to take into account credit unions, which are locally owned and managed financial institutions where deposited dollars are loaned out to individuals and businesses within the community.
More than 2.2 million Wisconsinites already enjoy the “perks” of owning their financial institution. They elect their boards locally, from among the membership. There are no outside investors demanding profits.
As a result, these not-for-profit co-ops return $200 million annually to depositors through better rates on loans and savings and lower and fewer fees. Through their REAL Solutions initiative, credit unions help families by making affordable loans, refinancing mortgages, consolidating debt and adjusting loan terms. They help members sort out complex financial challenges, stretch budgets, rebuild battered credit scores and avoid payday lenders. They also offer free financial education. When members need help, credit unions step up.
In 2009, credit unions increased their lending to hometown businesses by 13 percent, compensating for a drop in banks’ lending. They could do even more if a federal cap on their business lending were lifted.
So we encourage the state to investigate public options that would help to ensure in-state investment of public dollars held on deposit. Our state deserves the same opportunity to benefit the way our residents do already by belonging to a credit union.
Brett A. Thompson
president & CEO
Wisconsin Credit Union League