The Michigan Senate has adopted a $30 million emergency spending measure to help Flint residents with their water bills.
Governor Rick Snyder asked for the appropriation this week after Flint residents complained they should not have to pay for water they can’t drink because of the threat of lead contamination. The governor initially proposed putting the reimbursement into the budget for the coming fiscal year. But Snyder and GOP leaders then decided to pick up the pace. “It simply does not make sense that we’d expect the people of this community to pay for water they cannot drink,” said state Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive). The budget measure only covers the cost of the tap water, and not for sewer service.
State Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint) said the state caused the problems with Flint’s water, and the state should cover the entire tab. “No good businessperson would expect only a partial refund for a product that was not only unfit for use, but actually poisoned them,” he said.
The GOP-led Senate also declined to fund nutrition assistance for children to ward off the effects of lead. “We are prioritizing 30 million dollars to pay off water bills because it’s the right thing to do,” said state Senator David Knezek (D-Dearborn Heights). “But paying off a water bill doesn’t address the issue of lead in the bodies of children in Flint, Michigan." Meekhof said that can be handled in future budgets and the priority right now is to get Flint residents relief from their utility bills.