Is new social-impact fund first step to NJ public bank?

Gov. Phil Murphy and lawmakers have set aside $20 million for a state-run Social Impact Investment Fund to advance what they are deeming “socially beneficial projects” in communities across the state.

The new fund will use both public and private investment dollars to advance affordable-housing developments, certain infrastructure-improvement projects, and the construction and maintenance of early childhood education centers, according to a law signed by Murphy late last month.

“This is exactly the kind of alternative finance mechanism cities across New Jersey need for critical investments in low- and moderate-income communities,” said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, president of New Jersey Citizen Action.

“The (fund) will act as a multiplier for public funding and expand the number of solutions to our state’s most pressing social and economic problems, modeling some of what a New Jersey public bank could achieve in the future,” said Salowe-Kaye, who is also a member of a public bank implementation board Murphy established in 2019.

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