August 24th, 2019

Expert Panel to Discuss Public Banking at State House


The League of Women Voters of Central Vermont will sponsor a panel discussion, “Public Banking, A Good Fit For Vermont?” with experts on banking, politics and the state economy providing information and context to this important issue. The panel, consisting of both supporters and opponents, will explore the pros and cons of public banking.

Slated for 7 to 9pm on Wednesday, April 16, at the State House, this event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Room 10. There will be a Q&A session following the discussion. The evening promises to be energizing with a give-and-take exchange of ideas and concerns in a respectful atmosphere.

Moderated by League member Claudette Sortino, panelists include Washington County Senator Anthony Pollina; Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce; Gwen Hallsmith, founder of Global Community Initiatives; and Chris D’Elia, President and Treasurer of the Vermont Bankers Association. The League of Women Voters of Vermont is presently conducting a study to determine if implementation of a public bank plan would be beneficial for the state.

On March 4, 2014, Town Meeting Day, 19 Vermont cities and towns voted on a measure to support the creation of a public bank in Vermont. Fifteen approved the measure and four voted it down. Towns that approved the resolution include Bakersfield, Craftsbury, Enosburg, Marshfield, Montgomery, Montpelier Plainfield, Putney, Randolph, Rochester, Royalton, Ryegate, Tunbridge, Warren, and Waitsfield. Towns that voted down the measure include Marlboro, Barnet and Fayston and Greensboro.

Moderator Claudette Sortino is a member of the League of Women Voters and chair of the League’s Public Banking Study Committee. She is also a member of Ryegate Select Board and president, Blue Mountain Union School Education Foundation.

Panelist Anthony Pollina is a state senator representing Washington County. He is lead sponsor of Senate Bill S.204 which, if passed, will provide Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) with banking authority to accept deposits and make loans.

State treasurer Beth Pearce has over 30 years’ experience in government finance. She advocates for conservative and affordable debt practices, prudent management of pension systems, and responsible use of reserves. She is regional vice president of the National Association of State Treasurers for the northeast region.

Panelist Gwen Hallsmith is founder of the consulting firm Global Community Initiatives, co-founder of Vermonters for a New Economy, and an advocate for public banking. She is the former Planning and Community Development Director for the City of Montpelier.

Christopher D’Elia is president of VT Bankers Association and a former commissioner of the VT Department of Economic Development. His previous roles have included executive director of the VT Economic Progress Council and Executive Director of Lamoille Economic Development Corporation.


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