Snyder to Flint: ‘I will fix it’
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder devoted his sixth State of the State address to the immediate challenges facing Michigan today and actions being taken to solve them – foremost among them, the crisis in Flint, the condition of Detroit Public Schools, and Michigan’s economic future.
“To the people of Flint, I will fix this. You did not create this crisis and you do not deserve this,” Snyder said. “I want to tell you that you are not alone. The State of Michigan stands with you. I will spare no resource to effectively and permanently solve this crisis and ensure you have the quality of life you deserve.”
The governor explained the immediate actions being taken to help Flint residents, including daily door-to-door distribution of bottled water, water filters, filter replacements and water testing kits. More than 21,000 homes have been visited this month by volunteers and emergency responders. In addition, he detailed budget recommendations to keep Flint on Detroit’s water system through the end of 2016, to replace water supply pipes and fixtures in Flint schools, and to fund specialized staff locally in Flint for follow-up care for affected residents.
An official request to the Legislature to address immediate, short-term funding to ensure everyone in Flint has clean water will cover costs such as:
Replacement of fixtures in schools, daycares and hospitals;
Treatment of children with high lead levels, including diagnostic testing, nurse visits and environmental assessments;
Child and adolescent health centers and additional support for children’s health care access;
An infrastructure integrity study for pipes and connections, using outside experts;
Providing aid to the city for utilities.
Long-term health monitoring for children exposed to the water and potential replacement of water infrastructure and service lines will be addressed through the governor’s traditional budget recommendation, which will be shared on Feb. 10.
The governor also talked openly about fixing the problems in state government that led to this crisis.
“Apologies are not enough. My immediate concern is with healing Flint and ensuring all residents there have clean water. But I will also work to address the breakdown in state government that led to this crisis so that it never happens again. You have my word that we will fix this, and everyone who works for state government must know – any situation like this must come to my attention immediately. No delays, no excuses. We are accountable.”
The Flint water crisis is an extreme example of how infrastructure replacement is desperately needed. But Flint is not the only municipality that will need to have water transmission pipes and other components of underground systems upgraded.
“Our state faces very real challenges at this point. We have deteriorating infrastructure – infrastructure we don’t see every day like we do with roads. Many cities have aging water systems and pipes that need to be upgraded. Flint has been the catalyst for this, but it isn’t just Flint and it isn’t just Michigan. This is a national problem, and we are going to have Michigan solutions.”
Gov. Snyder is calling for local and state officials as well as independent experts to work together on long-term solutions to infrastructure challenges. Top priorities include: water infrastructure, energy and electrical grids, broadband support, and upgrading the Soo Locks. A task force will be appointed to examine these issues and make recommendations for action.
The crisis in Flint is a tragic reminder that Michigan cannot truly be strong when Michiganders are suffering. This is a statewide challenge, and it isn’t the only one. In 2016 the most pressing education issue is restructuring the Detroit Public School system.
Detroit schools are failing at the most basic fundamentals of education: teaching children. Gov. Snyder will continue working with the Legislature to reform the entire structure of DPS, so that not only can current students achieve more and have a better chance for future success, but measures will be put in place to ensure a complete failure to educate schoolchildren never again happens in a Michigan district. The district’s debt must be restructured so that the $1,100 per-student spent on debt service can be spent on classroom resources.
For more State of the State information, visit www.michigan.gov/stateofthestate and join the conversation at #misots16.
For updates on Flint water, please visit www.mi.gov/flintwater.
For more information on how to help Flint residents, visit www.helpforflint.com.
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