LANSING — Today, the House passed Senate Bill 136, a supplemental appropriations bill that would allocate $30 million to pay some of the cost of water bills owed to the city of Flint by its residents. Unfortunately, this bill would only cover up to 65 percent of the water portion of bills owed by individuals, meaning the community’s residents would still have to pay for some of the lead-laced water they were unable to drink or bathe in. The bill also covers only 20 percent for business water costs.
State Representative Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint) offered two amendments on the floor Wednesday for SB 136. His first provided $60 million for Flint’s water bills, double the current amount. His second changes the boilerplate to reflect the intent to pay the water bills in full, from 65 percent for residential bills and 20 percent for businesses to 100 percent for both individuals and businesses. They were both defeated by a voice vote.
“The governor’s administration is rolling out a plan to cover just a percentage of Flint’s water bills, and then they’re patting themselves on the back and calling it a win,” Neeley said. “This is nothing short of a complete loss for the people of Flint, and one more stumble in a long line of mishandled steps in this crisis. To make Flint’s residents pay for even 1 percent of their poisoned water is a terrible mistake. While I ultimately supported this bill, these Band-Aid approaches to solving the crisis in Flint are not in the best interest of my constituents. Immediate and full assistance must be given.”
State Representative Phil Phelps (D-Flushing) offered an amendment to add $5.5 million for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program. This was also defeated by a voice vote.
“The governor and the legislative majority continue to talk about fixing this problem and putting the people first, but the only thing they seem to put first in this supplemental bill is a public relations victory,” Phelps said. “There needs to be another bill soon after this one to address these critical errors in funding allocations. A ‘halfway fix’ will not help the people affected by this crisis.”