Under New Jersey law, a city or town has to hold a public referendum to privatize its water. But legislative leaders are now fast tracking a bill that cuts voters out completely. Foreign water companies will make a fortune, while voters will pay higher rates for dirtier water.
I’m going to testify against this terrible bill tomorrow, but I want more than my own voice there. I want to be able to say that legislative leaders have already received thousands of emails from Working Families activists like you telling them to protect our democratic rights and kill this bill.
For the last century, New Jersey law has required plans to sell off water systems to go before the voters. The idea is that politicians shouldn’t just be able to sell off what generations of New Jerseyans built together, and that the public should have the right to review any sale of a resource as fundamental as water.
Privatizing water might provide a nice one-time infusion of cash, but the fact is that water companies can make sky-high bids with the full knowledge that they can raise rates to cover the cost of the sale. The voters being cut out of the decision are the very ones who will end up paying for it.
In 2010, Trenton voters realized that the proposed scheme to privatize their water would lead to higher rates and dirtier water. They voted down the sale 4 to 1 vote. Since these multinational water corporations can’t convince voters, they want to just cut them out and work exclusively with the politicians whose campaigns they help bankroll.
This is a blatant attack on democracy and local control, and if we don’t act now it could land on Governor Christie’s desk THIS MONTH.