Today, faith leaders, advocacy groups, environmental organizations and city council members gathered at Baltimore City Hall to protect Baltimore’s water by “flushing” Trump’s infrastructure plan and Suez’s privatization attempts. They joined with communities speaking out across the country as part of the Millions of Jobs Coalition’s Week of Action against Trump’s infrastructure plan.
On Monday, the Trump administration unveiled its legislative principles for infrastructure. The plan would dramatically shift the burden of improving our nation’s infrastructure to state and local governments, while the Trump administration’s budget would cut more in infrastructure funding than the plan would provide. The infrastructure agenda calls for billions in federal subsidies to incentivize Wall Street and corporations to privatize public assets and calls for a rollback of environmental regulations to fast track large projects including oil and gas pipelines that could threaten public water supplies.
This infrastructure vision will lead to much higher state and local taxes, tolls, and other user fees, which will fall more heavily on working families; and a continued decline in the quality of our infrastructure as many communities are unable to raise revenue to prevent their assets from crumbling. Cities like Baltimore with large low-income populations in Blue States will be hurt particularly hard by the Trump administration’s infrastructure agenda.
In Baltimore, communities are especially concerned with the aspects of the plan that would encourage and subsidize privatizing water service. For example, the Trump administration opening up the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to private water corporations, while his budget initially sought a 28 percent, $400 million, cut to this program. Together, this would threaten Baltimore’s access to the main source of federal assistance to help the city comply with its wastewater consent decree.
This infrastructure plan comes just as French multinational Suez and Wall Street firm KKR are lobbying Baltimore’s city officials to privatize the water system through a 50-year lease. Following the rally, advocates will deliver a letter, signed by 19 organizations in Baltimore, to the Board of Estimates opposing Suez and KKR’s proposed privatization attempt. The groups asserted that water bills would skyrocket to allow Wall Street to profit, leading to even more unaffordable bills, shut offs and tax sales.
“We won’t stand for Trump trying to sell out our utilities to corporations and Wall St. Privatization scams will only cause water rates to rise, quality to decrease, and workers to suffer. We must look to public options to make our water more affordable, and enhance service.” Council President Bernard C “Jack” Young
“Trump’s infrastructure plan is just another giveaway to corporations. In Baltimore, we’re committed to meeting the needs of our citizens, not Wall Street. That’s why our water will remain in public hands.” Councilwoman Shannon Sneed, District 13.
“We seek equitable public funding of Baltimore’s infrastructure --- free of privatization mandates. Baltimore chooses private sector partners we respect and need to assist but NOT to control our basic public services, like water. This federal investment must be for the public’s benefit, not for private gain.” Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, District 14
“Trump’s infrastructure scam, and any water privatization, would only increase the burden of excessive water bills on Baltimoreans. We must stand united as a community to reject both Trump’s privatization scheme for profiteering companies, and Suez and KKR’s bid for a lease on our water System.” Rianna Eckel, Maryland Organizer, Food & Water Watch
“Public infrastructure, built and maintained with public dollars, needs to stay under public control. We have seen the results when leaders turn over control of infrastructure to private companies; costs skyrocket, quality plummets and taxpayers are left holding the bag. Whether it's our president, our governor or our mayor, we must say no to privatizing public works.” Charly Carter, Executive Director, Maryland Working Families
“Water is the lifeblood of our community and it is the moral responsibility of our elected officials to protect it. Our City should not even entertain the idea of water privatization. Leasing our system to Suez & KKR would cause immense harm to our community, and is nothing more than an attempt to pass the burden of upgrading our system on to someone else.” Pastor Alvin Gwynn, President, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Baltimore
"We know what happens when public goods, like our water supply and distribution systems, are privatized. The privatizers drain resources -- water and money -- from communities, especially ones that have less access to power. For the benefit of investors, rates go up, and accountability goes down. We will counter every water privatization effort in Baltimore." Liz Simon-Higgs, Leadership Council Co-Chair, Baltimore Jews United for Justice
“Privatization leads to hefty price hikes for already over extended taxpayers. Single mothers, people on fixed incomes, and seniors can’t afford another rate hike at their expense, but to the benefit of the rich and powerful. Water is a human right, not a luxury. Privatizing the water we drink is like privatizing the air breathe.” Elder Cortly "C D" Witherspoon Sr., President Emeritus of Southern Christian Leadership Conference and People’s Power Assembly
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Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment. www.foodandwaterwatch.org