By Olivia Alperstein, Progressive Congress and Jonathan Alan King, Massachusetts Budget for All Campaign
The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is the perfect case for why our country needs more funding for infrastructure, not less.
It is unconscionable that Flint’s water supply has been poisoned with lead. Residents lack access to basic daily necessities because of the unsafe water supply and must rely on daily rations of bottled water. They continue to be charged for toxic and corrosive water, even as they lack access to much-needed services. Scientists predict that young children who have been exposed will suffer developmentally and physically. The EPA estimates that more than 10 million homes receive their water through lead pipes in cities and towns across the nation. These all need replacement.
Lack of investment in infrastructure modernization has compounded this devastating crisis. Officials delayed their response to the contamination, and now residents are paying the price. Families have waited for almost two years for ongoing problems to be addressed. Meanwhile, residents have numerous health problems and desperately need access to better services to address the effects of lead poisoning.
Flint is only one of many American communities that suffers from a contaminated water supply, and this is not the only type of man-made disaster that our nation has faced. We have the opportunity to learn from past crises, such as the Exxon-Valdez oil spill. No one should continue to suffer after a health and environmental crisis has been identified. Our federal budget must include investments in infrastructure and technology that will employ American workers to fix and maintain local resources and prevent disasters.
Replacing lead pipes, rebuilding water mains and water treatment plants, and increasing funds for water testing and quality control, will create tens of thousands of jobs with good pay and doing good work. Such job creation is essential to close the wealth gap and for long term economic growth.
The federal budget used to include major funding for water treatment plants and other preventative measures that would help us avoid man-made catastrophes. It’s time to bring our infrastructure into the 21st century in order to address current crises and prevent future disasters.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus budget for FY 2017, known as the “People’s Budget,” prioritizes increased funding for infrastructure and vital human services. The budget allocates $1 trillion toward infrastructure spending and specifically designates $150 billion to replace the aging, toxic pipelines and provide much-needed health, education, and other services.
We have to invest in the future, and that means committing funds to towns like Flint so that all Americans can have the resources and quality of life they deserve. We support the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget because it recognizes that by investing in improving infrastructure, we invest in improving the lives of children and families across the United States.
To learn more about the CPC budget, visit http://cpc-grijalva.house.gov/the-peoples-budget-prosperity-not-austerity-invest-in-america/ and www.cpcbudget.org. To take action and tell your Members of Congress to support the CPC budget, visit http://p2a.co/ProgressiveCong.