Snyder signs $28m bill to aid Flint

The bill will benefit elementary schools, testing costs and general support

By Maddie Forshee | 1/31/16 10:54pm

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GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder visits Grand Rapids Oct. 7 for the 2015 State University Summit. Gov. Snyder was greeted by officials working within higher education institutions from across Michigan.

by Kevin Sielaff / Grand Valley Lanthorn

Flint, Michigan is a city in crisis. The lead-infected water that is currently affecting a portion of the residents of the city has rendered anything that comes out of the tap undrinkable and unusable for cooking or bathing.

Recent attention on the city from celebrities and citizens alike has drawn attention to Gov. Rick Snyder and the state's efforts to aid the city.

The aid given to Flint has been deemed as unsatisfactory by many, drawing criticism upon Snyder for not caring or not taking the situation seriously enough.

On Jan. 29, at the annual Michigan Press Association conference in Grand Rapids, Snyder signed an appropriations bill worth $28 million to address the current public health crisis in Flint.

At the luncheon, held in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, he did not beat around the bush before addressing the water crisis.

“We have a crisis happening,” Snyder said. “That shouldn’t happen. There was a failure at the local, the state and the federal level.”

He highlighted the importance of not just rebuilding the pipes that physically poisoned the city, but also rebuilding the relationship with the citizens of Flint.

“The focus needs to be on reestablishing trust and getting so that the water coming out of the tap is safe and clean again,” he said. “We need to really make sure we make a commitment to strengthen the community, to make it a stronger, better place.”

Snyder talked about the work that is already being done in Flint, like testing individual homes’ water supplies, installing over 20,000 tap filters and sending over 200,000 cases of water to those affected by the leaden water.

The bill will aid the city with things like water filters, nurses for elementary schools and health assessments for children. The bill is worth $28 million total, with $22 million coming from the state's general fund.

When asked if he would reconsider his emergency manager law due to less-than-satisfactory results in Detroit and Flint, Snyder wouldn't admit that the plan might carry some of the fault in the water situation, saying that the plan worked in other cities like Detroit.

"In many cases, the emergency manager law has worked very effectively in terms of how we turn around communities," he said. "In Flint, obviously there are questions that will be part of the whole analysis of what took place. We need to keep working these things for continuous improvement."

Snyder also couldn’t put a time frame to when Flint residents will have potable water, but he said he hopes within the next few months something can be accomplished.

“How do you learn from things that didn’t go right, to be even stronger and better for the long term?” Snyder asked. “That’s what I love about the spirit of Michiganders. We don’t just walk away if something doesn’t go right, we don’t just roll over. It’s time to stand up and recognize that things could have been done differently.”

In all, the money from the bill will benefit:

- $2.7 million to provide additional school nurses, monitoring for young children and providing snacks to elementary schools through the Michigan Department of Education.

- $5.8 million to the Department of Environmental Quality to cover testing costs and “potential payment to the city of Flint to aid with utility issues.”

- $15.5 million for field operations, nutrition support and the purchase of bottled water and filters through the Department of Health and Human Resources.

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