Jackson water crisis: Lawmakers react to Governor’s privatization comments

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 9:01 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Governor Tate Reeves says he’s open to privatization as a potential solution for Jackson’s water crisis.

“Privatization is on the table,” said Governor Tate Reeves Monday morning.

Those words are striking a chord with Rep. Earle Banks of Jackson.

“I’m horrified by the idea of privatization,” said Banks.

Banks fears letting a private company run the system would create a new problem of its own.

“I see privatization rates going up to a community in which is already impoverished, doesn’t have the income to pay sometimes the rates we have now,” added Banks.

Meanwhile, we reached out to lawmakers outside the Jackson area to see if they believe there’s a growing consensus that something should be done to help the capital city.

“I personally had been on record as saying, over decades of failed leadership, we’ve gotten here, and nobody should be fooled,” said Sen. Brice Wiggins. “This didn’t happen overnight. That being said, the citizens deserve leadership, and if privatization will accomplish bringing safe, healthy drinking water and water to be used in businesses and homes, then that should be on the table.”

“I’m glad to hear the governor says he wants that on the table,” added Sen. Jeremy England. “It’s going to take a lot of money, a lot of time, and it’s going to take, it’s going to take better management than what we’ve seen thus far.”

However, when you circle back to other members of the Jackson delegation, they’re wary of handing it over.

“That’s the most valuable asset the city has right down,” said Sen. John Horhn. “And we want to do everything we can within reason to keep it. We have the triage and hemorrhaging that we’ve got to take care of on the system right now. But as far as the long-term solution, a lot of work is still before us to try to come up with a strategy, a specific, well thought out plan, that we can then work from whatever angles we need to work on.”

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said Tuesday he is opposed to full privatization.

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