PEWAUKEE, Wis. (3/12/08)--Testimony by banks for a banker-supported bill in the Wisconsin State Assembly is an example of “bait and switch”--just another attempt to eliminate credit union competition in the financial marketplace, according to the Wisconsin Credit Union League. AB 897 would require the largest (more than $100 million in assets) Wisconsin credit unions, at significant cost to all of the state’s taxpayers, to provide annual reports of how they serve their communities, the league said. “Banks control 91% of the assets held in Wisconsin financial institutions,” said Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the league. “But it seems they want more, and now they’ve set their sights on the largest credit unions. The bill would regulate them more heavily and make it easier for banks to take them over.” The Assembly Financial Institutions Committee heard testimony last week. Testimony by league representatives detailed how credit unions deliver $176 million to their members annually--chiefly through higher rates on saving, lower rates on loans, and lower and fewer fees. A variety of studies, including those cited by bankers, have proven that Wisconsin credit unions outperform banks in meeting the financial needs of their communities--essentially doing better on their own than banks do under regulation of the federal Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), the league said. Credit unions’ self-initiated REAL Solutions effort illustrates why the CRA is unnecessary for credit unions, the league said. REAL Solutions is an initiative by credit unions in several states to provide affordable services and wealth-building opportunities to their members and community, regardless of profit. Examples of the services include free checking with no minimum balance, free ATM access for members, loans as small as $50, alternatives to payday loans that cost less than storefront lenders, credit re-builder programs and free financial education. Wisconsin credit unions received the Governor’s Financial Literacy Awards in 2006 and 2008 for improving the financial health of Wisconsin citizens through REAL Solutions.