Snyder considers more aid for Flint water crisis

and Jonathan Oosting

Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday he is reviewing whether to ask the Legislature for more money to address Flint’s contaminated water situation.

In an interview at the North American International Auto Show, the Republican governor said his budget team is considering financial assistance for Flint in addition to the more than $9.3 million the Legislature approved in October to help the city reconnect to the Detroit water system.

“That would have to be fairly soon,” Snyder said.

The city’s water suffered lead contamination when it connected to the Flint River in April 2014 and didn’t apply corrosion controls — a failure that has been blamed on the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Snyder told The Detroit News his administration is reviewing whether to request a 2016 supplemental appropriation for Flint that would use projected state surpluses and spending lapses to finance the aid. His State of the State speech is in a week.

The supplemental request could be included in Snyder’s budget proposal for next year that is typically released in early February, “but we may want to do that even sooner,” he said.

Michigan ended the 2015 fiscal year year with a general fund balance of $815.9 million, according to a recent report from the nonpartisan Senate Fiscal Agency. The House Fiscal Agency estimated the surplus Tuesday at $574 million.

Snyder also said he’s reviewing a request from U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, that the state cover Flint’s $2 million cost to reconnect the city to Detroit’s water system. Kildee has urged the state not to hold Flint responsible for the cost, considering the mistakes made by the state DEQ.

A projected budget surplus could make Snyder’s supplemental spending request an easier lift in Lansing.

The Treasury Department will release their own budget projections this week, and officials are scheduled meet Thursday in Lansing to compare figures. Their consensus revenue estimates will be the basis for future budget discussions in the state Legislature.

Beyond Snyder’s public comments about a supplemental spending bill, the administration has not shared plans for any Flint-specific legislation at this time, House Republican spokesman Gideon D’Assandro said Tuesday.

“They’ve got people on the ground, obviously, and once they put together a list of things they need to help the people of Flint, we’ll obviously take a look at it,” he said.

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