Whitmer OKs creation of $641M fund for Flint water crisis settlement

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation Wednesday creating a trust fund to handle a $641 million settlement that will be distributed to Flint residents affected by the water crisis.

The legislation authorizes the state to issue bonds to cover Michigan's $600 million share of the settlement, money that will be repaid through an annual $35 million appropriation over the next 30 years. 

The settlement includes $20 million from the city of Flint, $20 million from the McLaren Regional Medical Center and $1.25 million from the Rowe Professional Services Co. 

Whitmer said a goal of her administration and Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel has been to reach the "best possible settlement for the children and families of Flint" stemming from the lead contamination of the city's drinking water. She thanked Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland and Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich of Flint for sponsoring the legislation. 

"While this settlement will never be enough to compensate for what happened, it is a major step toward helping the people of Flint heal," Whitmer said. 

The legislation would establish the "Flint Settlement Trust Fund" and allow the Michigan Strategic Fund to borrow money and issue bonds for the settlement. 

The landmark settlement was announced in August as one of the largest in the state's history after Flint residents filed more than 100 lawsuits seeking damages from the state for the lead-contaminated water piped into their homes. 

"While there are many who view today’s bill signing as the end of this story, for the people of Flint it is a chance at a new beginning,” Ananich said in a statement. “This settlement is a measure of justice for the victims of the water crisis, and specifically the children of Flint who may endure the impact of lead poisoning for years to come.” 

The "hybrid structure" settlement allocates about 80% of the funds to individuals who were still minors at the time at the time of the lead contamination, 2% to special education in Genesee County and 18% to adults for damaged property. 

It releases from civil liability all state employees who were subjects of the civil suits, including Republican former Gov. Rick Snyder and former state Treasurer Andy Dillon, a Democrat.

The legislation gives "accountability to the people of Flint and, hopefully, "some closure to the families affected by the crisis," Stamas said in a statement. 

“This settlement ends the fiscal uncertainty the crisis created in our state and allows us to move forward," he said. 

eleblanc@detroitnews.com

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.

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