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Wis. league Out-of-state group behind CU conversion bill
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (5/19/11)--State legislation to make it easier to convert Wisconsin credit union charters to bank charters is being supported by an out-of-state group dedicated to eliminating competition for for-profit banks, said the Wisconsin Credit Union League. The proposal appears as a budget amendment and the league has called on Gov. Scott Walker to veto the proposal when the budget bill hits his desk (News Now May 16). In a press release on WisPolitics.com (May 17), the league noted that "one way to tell a piece of proposed legislation is suspect is when it's introduced at the last minute, under cover of darkness, and without notice to any of the people who will be affected by it." The legislation is supported by the Coalition for Credit Union Charter Options (CCUCO). "The group's claim that it's somehow better for Wisconsin credit unions to have faster, easier path to becoming a bank is irresponsible and misleading," said Brett Thompson, league president/CEO. "This effort to eliminate credit unions under the guise of greater operational flexibility is being driven by the banking industry, which has been trying for decades to legislate, regulate and litigate credit unions out of business," Thompson added. "Especially disingenuous is the group's claim that if a credit union becomes a bank it could make more loans, accept more deposits, and open more branches," he noted. "Never in history have banks been in favor of credit unions making more loans, accepting more deposits and opening more branches. In fact, they've sued credit unions and lobbied Congress and the state legislature to keep them from doing just that," he said. "This legislation has nothing to do with serving the public. It's about just the opposite--quelling competition so banks can make even more money." The group's statement that credit unions that convert would help the state by paying more in taxes is "equally misleading," Thompson said. "The annual member benefits that credit unions deliver to Wisconsin citizens outweigh the potential tax revenue," he emphasized. Last year, credit unions returned nearly $203 million to members in the state in the form of better rates and fewer and lower fees than banks. "This legislation is really about bankers looking for a way to make even bigger bank profits," Thompson said. "Public policy should protect credit union members' right to determine the future of the financial institutions they own. Passing legislation--secretly, without public notice, debate or hearing--that makes it easier to turn the equity of Wisconsin's 2.2 million credit union members into additional riches for a few bank shareholders cannot in any way be considered in the public interest," Thompson said.


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