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Mich. House poised to adopt funds to help Flint with water bills

A state House committee has OK’d an emergency spending measure to help Flint residents with a portion of their water bills. The budget would reduce the water portion of Flint residents’ future water and sewer bills.

The $30 million dollar appropriation is on a fast track to be approved by the entire state House. 

The budget measure was adopted and sent to the House floor by the GOP-controlled House Appropriations Committee. But not without attempts by Democrats to add money to forgive all of Flint residents’ water bills, instead of just 65 percent.

State Representative Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, chairs the appropriations committee. He says the measure is fair.             

“Yeah, maybe you couldn’t drink it, you couldn’t cook with it,” he says, “but there’s other things, there were other uses, the water was used, so there should be some payment for that.”

State Representative Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, also called for money to start work now on digging up and replacing lead pipes. 

“It’s been very frustrating for many of us here in the Legislature who want to answer the question for the people of Flint: When can they turn on their water and feel safe to use it?” he says.

“I don’t know why we didn’t have contractors last fall when the rest of us found out about the Flint water crisis, so I’m just trying to push this process along. We need to get shovels in the ground. We need to get contractors out there now working to fix the problem.”

Republicans say it’s more important to do the job right, and money for replacing lead pipes will be in future budgets. Governor Rick Snyder has also called for an infrastructure fund to help update water systems across the state.  

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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