WASHINGTON — The tally of credit unions that are publicly dissenting from the industry's push to allow more business lending is now up to three.
Dale Kerslee, president of Cascade Federal Credit Union in Kent, Wash., expressed his opposition to industry-backed legislation in a letter to Senate leaders this week.
His objection is the same one raised by Glendale Area Schools Federal Credit Union in California and Unity Credit Union in Michigan — the concern that risky commercial lending will put the entire industry on the hook for potential losses.
"With 32% of the nation's credit unions reporting negative net income for 2011, far too many credit unions simply cannot afford additional risks to our balance sheets," Kerslee wrote.
"There's a lot of credit unions that are just basically disinterested in member business lending. That's the majority of credit unions," Kerslee said in an interview Friday. "There are a few credit unions that are pushing the limits."
Regulatory data show that about 70% of federally insured credit unions do not lend to member businesses. Of the nearly 2,200 credit unions that do make such loans, 109 are both subject to the statutory cap and within 20% of the current limit.
Federal law prevents most credit unions from making business loans that exceed 12.25% of their total assets. The Senate legislation, which is expected to come to a vote soon, would raise that limit to 27.5%.
The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Republican Sen. Rand Paul, is currently the subject of a fierce lobbying fight between trade groups for banks and credit unions. Credit union trade groups have said that the dissenting non-profits represent only a tiny fraction of the credit unions that support the legislation.