Washington, D.C. – In the Public Interest (ITPI), a comprehensive resource center on outsourcing and responsible contracting, today released the Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda, a locally focused plan to reclaim taxpayer control of privatized public services and infrastructure that have undercut transparency, accountability, shared prosperity and competition.
The Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda, which includes proposals aimed at preventing these giveaways and restoring local control to taxpayers, can be found at www.inthepublicinterest.org.
“The Taxpayer Empowerment Agenda will help put taxpayers fully in control of our public services and infrastructure. State and local lawmakers who champion these proposals will stand on the side of taxpayers, and plain common sense,” said Donald Cohen, Chair of ITPI.
Cohen was joined on the call by Chicago Alderman Roderick Sawyer (Ward 6), who is championing a tough anti-outsourcing ordinance, former State Senator Paula Dockery (R-FL) and Katherine McFate, President of the Center for Effective Government.
The agenda includes simple proposals such as requiring any company paid with tax dollars to open its books and meetings to the public, requiring companies that receive public contracts to pay a living wage with reasonable benefits, and banning language that promises profits even if public services are no longer needed.
Outsourcing public services and privatizing public infrastructure to for-profit companies has led to disasters across the country including:
- In Chicago, a Morgan Stanley-backed company took control of 36,000 public parking meters. Taxpayers are now obligated to reimburse the company when they want to hold a parade or street fair, and must get the company’s approval to open free or reduced rate parking lots for the next 75 years.
- In Denver, the foreign consortium that operates the Northwest Parkway can prevent any free public road improvements near the toll road that “might hurt the parkway financially” by providing an alternative route for drivers. The contract lasts 99 years.
- In 2012, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the country, sent a letter to 48 states offering to buy public prisons in exchange for a promise to keep the prisons 90 percent filled for 20 years. While no one took CCA up on its offer, many existing private prison contracts require governments to keep prison beds filled or for taxpayers to pay the prison company for empty beds.