Legislature approves $100M for Flint after error

Michael Gerstein and Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Flint will get $100 million in federal funding for lead pipe replacement and other fixes after a legislative impasse and drafting error delayed approval from the Michigan House and Senate.

The Senate approved the transfer on Thursday, while all but one member of the state House voted to send the money: Freshman Rep. Steven Johnson, R-Wayland Township.

The Flint money was originally attached to a bill meant to pay for fixing Fraser’s collapsed pipe, which served as a funding pass through for the federal money. But Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, did not want to appropriate a $3 million grant for Fraser’s pipe problem, preferring instead a $5 million loan, which the House rejected.

Lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder worked out a deal to pay for the Fraser sinkhole separately through existing leftover money in a Michigan Department of Transportation fund. That allowed them to vote on sending Flint its money as a separate measure, but an error in the bill language on Wednesday delayed the vote until Thursday.

“That was our mulligan,” Meekhof said. “We sent it over there, and there were a couple things that were not done correctly.

“It actually got by three people reading it and still was wrong,” he continued. “So instead of having the House try to mess with it, we said: Send it back; we’ll fix it, and send it back to you. ... We just messed up.”