Flint funding ‘on the table’ in budget cut debate

Reduced revenue projections mean nothing is sacrosanct in the state budget process, according to Senate Appropriations Chairman Dave Hildenbrand, who said Wednesday a $124 million Flint water crisis funding proposal approved by his chamber may be reconsidered or revised.

“I’d like to put it back on the table, but it is a priority for the Senate and for me to make sure we continue to send the resources that are needed towards the efforts ongoing in Flint,” said Hildenbrand, R-Lowell.

Michigan officials on Tuesday slashed state revenue projections by a combined $333 million for the current and upcoming fiscal years, throwing a wrench in budget work that legislators hope to complete by early June.

Hildenbrand noted a recent pledge by 10 foundations to donate $125 million for Flint recovery efforts in coming years, suggesting legislators should now take a second look at where help is needed in the city.

“We just need to reassess where things are at,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, and Mayor Karen Weaver are urging legislators to avoid trimming any spending proposals for the beleaguered city, where residents continue to rely on bottled and filtered water after many were exposed to high lead levels in the municipal drinking supply.

The foundation pledges should be seen as a way to “supplement” not supplant state funding, Ananich said Wednesday, also urging continued consideration of debt relief funding for the Detroit Public Schools.

“The state government failed the citizens of Flint and the children of Detroit in the school system, and we have a responsibility to fix the problem,” Ananich said.

Calley now behind Trump

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley became the highest ranking Michigan Republican to fully embrace billionaire Donald Trump as the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee earlier this week.

“It is time for republicans to unify behind @realDonaldTrump,” Calley wrote Monday night on Twitter.

Calley endorsed Ohio Gov. John Kasich ahead of Michigan’s March 8 primary. He was elected a Kasich delegate to the Republican National Convention before the Ohio governor dropped out of the race earlier this month.

With the water crisis in Flint raging, Gov. Rick Snyderdid not endorse a presidential candidate during the primaries. But the second-term Republican governor expressed concerns about Trump’s rhetoric, repudiating the real estate tycoon’s call for banning Muslim immigration.

Some Michigan Republican leaders have been slow to embrace Trump since his last rivals dropped out, even though the major party alternative is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. For now, Snyder is not wading into the presidential election, spokesman Ari Adler said.

Calley first made his support known for Trump on Monday during the taping of a podcast with the Michigan Information and Research Service, a Lansing political newsletter.

“Between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, that’s not a tough choice for me,” Calley told MIRS. “Our party has a process, Donald Trump has brought a lot of people to the table in Republican primaries that we haven’t seen in a long time — really not since the famous Reagan Democrats.”

In embracing Trump’s candidacy, Calley said he subscribes to “the big tent philosophy” to grow the GOP base in an effort to recapture the White House.

“The bigger your tent gets, you’re going to have differences and the family’s got to figure out how to deal with those differences,” Calley told MIRS. “I’m well-acquainted with that type of confrontation.”

Calley’s late Monday night tweet endorsing Trump set off a series of social media responses, including one from Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Dillon.

“Which part is best to rally around? Abolishing fed min wage? The misogyny? Ban on Muslims? Abolishing EPA?” Dillon asked.

Calley did not reply.

Contributors: Jonathan Oosting and Chad Livengood