LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan House Appropriations Committee approved a $28 million relief bill to help Flint amid the water crisis.
The committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to move forward with the bill. Next it heads to the full House for a vote which could happen as soon as Wednesday.
The new round of funding announced Tuesday, which requires approval from the GOP-led Legislature, is intended as another short-term step while Gov. Snyder works to get a better handle on the long-range costs. He plans to make a bigger request in his February budget proposal.
The $28 million would pay for more filters, bottled water, school nurses, intervention specialists, testing and monitoring. It also would replace plumbing fixtures in schools with lead problems and could help Flint with unpaid water bills.
Rep. Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) said the relief is long overdue.
“Much more is needed to offset the damages that have been created by the failures of state government, the governor’s office and the department of MDEQ. So this is a refreshing start to the day,” said Rep. Neeley.
A Michigan State Police trooper testified in the committee saying they’ve been adding more members of the National Guard to help them go door to door to get water filters in all of the homes In Flint as quickly as possible.
Snyder pledged a fix during his annual State of the State speech Tuesday night and apologized for the state not taking action sooner when elevated lead levels were found. He also promised to quickly release his emails about the crisis which are expected to be released sometime Wednesday.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver spoke at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington D.C. Wednesday saying Snyder’s State of the State speech was a good first step, but Flint still deserves more resources, support and finances as a result of what happened.
“It’s ironic when you live in the Great Lakes state and you don’t have clean water,” said Weaver.
Weaver said she will not call for Snyder’s resignation over the water crisis. Instead she said Snyder needs to remain in place to provide “the services and the money, the funds that we need to address the population.”
The crisis began when Flint, about an hour’s drive from Detroit, switched its water source in 2014 to save money while under state financial management. Michigan’s top environmental regulator resigned over the failure to ensure that the Flint River water was properly treated to keep lead from pipes from leaching into the water.