Tom Has A Big Idea

The August issue of “Chicago Magazine” has a feature on how to make Chicago even better.  They selected six Big Ideas. Mine was #5. It’s about establishing a public bank for Illinois.

“THE RATIONALE: A state bank could help Illinois reduce its budget deficit and make more credit available, thereby boosting the economy.

THE PROPONENT: Tom Tresser, cofounder of Illinois Citizens for Public Banking and a former teacher who coorganized the opposition to the 2016 Olympics

HE SAYS: “Illinois has more red ink than any state but California. It owes $34 billion in principal on its bonds; pension debt stands at $76 billion, the highest in the nation; and it pays a ton in bond interest and fees, not just because it has a poor credit rating but also because it also uses big out-of-state banks and investment firms to do the deals.

“Contrast that with North Dakota. Since the economic downturn began in 2008, North Dakota has had a budget surplus every year. It has no state debt, excellent credit, and the country’s lowest unemployment rate [3 percent]. While student loans in Illinois carry interest of 8 to 12 percent, in North Dakota it’s 4 percent.” Read the full story.

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