Snyder's six-point plan to aid Flint
Gov. Rick Snyder will detail Tuesday night a more than $20 million supplemental spending plan to address the Flint water crisis, including health treatment for affected children and replacing faucets and other fixtures in all of the city’s schools and day care centers.
A source familiar with the Republican governor’s State of the State address said he will offer a six-point plan as his short-term response to the water contamination emergency that allowed lead to enter the bodies of Flint children, and then discuss a much broader and longer commitment.
The six key initiatives funded by the $20 million supplemental appropriation to the current budget are:
■Additional filters, replacement filters and bottled water for Flint residents.
■Financial assistance for Flint utilities to alleviate the need for the city to send out water shutoff notices to residents for not paying their bills. The aid will not go directly to residents, but to the water system.
■Replacing all faucets in Flint’s schools and day care centers. Apparently, testing has determined that once the fixtures are replaced, lead levels in the water drop into the safe zone.
■Medical help for affected children, including diagnostic tests, behavioral treatment, programs at local hospitals and nurse visits for schools.
■Support for health centers that care for adolescents and young children. More children will be given access to the centers.
■An infrastructure integrity study to examine Flint’s water pipes. The work will be performed by independent contractors since “there’s not a lot of trust in government right now,” the source said.
Snyder will emphasize that this is a first-step spending plan, and much more money for Flint will be included in the 2017 budget when it’s introduced in early February.
That’s the action portion of the one-hour speech, half of which will be devoted to Flint.
The governor will attempt to explain what happened in Flint, offering a timeline for how the disaster unfolded, when he learned of the serious nature of the contamination, and how he responded.
He will name the responsible agencies, but won’t make excuses for his own performance, according to the source.
“He’s not going to run away from it,” the source said. “He will acknowledge it was a government failure at all levels.”
That includes the federal Environmental Protection Agency and local Flint municipal departments. But Snyder will emphasize his own culpability as the leader of the state.
Snyder will discuss the concerns expressed by Flint residents last summer, including meetings between his former Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore and local pastors who brought him their concerns about the taste and smell of the water.
He will chide his Department of Environmental Quality for failing to respond to the complaints, and credit the work of Virginia Tech Professor Marc Edwards and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Medical Center in Flint for raising the alarm about lead in the water.
“They were right,” the source said. “The civil servants got it wrong.”
The governor will repeat that he first learned of the crisis on Oct. 1 and immediately formed an action plan to get bottled water and filters to Flint.
Snyder will apologize again that his response was not more urgent.
And he will address head-on the calls for him to resign.
“He wants to be the one who solves it,” the source said. “He is in total fix-it mode.”
The balance of the speech will be devoted to his effort to restructure Detroit Public Schools and a few other initiatives.
His tone, the source said, will be resolute, but also contrite.
“He knows he needs to own this, and he’s very concerned about Flint and how this is being perceived around the country. He’s very sorry, but he’s not going away. He’s fired up. He’s a problem solver, so this is in his sweet spot.”
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