LANSING — House Democrats voted to support and amend the supplemental budget bill, House Bill 4329, rejecting the Senate’s $5 million loan and instead again approving a $3 million grant for Macomb County to deal with repairs because of the December 2016 sinkhole.

Yesterday, the state Senate changed the original $3 million grant approved by the House to a $5 million loan in spite of objections by Republican and Democratic Macomb legislators. The bill passed the Senate with one no vote. Today, House members rejected the Senate’s change to a loan. The bill now goes back to the Senate as a grant. The funding would assist with repairs being made and help protect homes, businesses and the environment from sewage overflows. A state of emergency is still in effect in the area.

“I am glad that House members can agree to a $3 million grant to Macomb County to help with repairs from the infrastructure collapse,” said state Rep. Bill Sowerby (D-Clinton Township). “Macomb County has been a donor county to the state, and now the county needs this state’s assistance to make this fix. I thank my colleagues for their understanding and support.” 

“Time is short, and we should get this grant to Macomb County so that repairs can keep moving forward, now that we are closer to spring and the inevitable rains that could make this situation much worse,” said state Rep. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores). “This is an appropriate use of state dollars to help workers stay on schedule so we can protect homes and businesses and avoid sewer back-ups as the repairs continue.”

“For decades, Macomb County communities have invested local dollars to protect our waterways and our Great Lakes,” said state Rep. Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights). “This problem, however, is not just about Macomb County, it’s about our Great Lakes, which all Michiganders enjoy and benefit from. It is appropriate for a statewide problem to be solved with a state grant.”

“This kind of disaster can completely disrupt a community’s economy and quality of life, and we have a responsibility to ensure we meet the needs of the residents of Macomb County. I am happy to see this grant for our constituents and thank my colleagues in the House for prioritizing infrastructure and recognizing the severity of the situation,” said state Rep. Patrick Green (D-Warren). “As we move forward, we need to continue to discuss ways we can work with communities to maintain and update their infrastructure. Simply put, this kind of disaster could happen anywhere in Michigan and it’s time to address the overarching problem.”

“This funding will help with repairs and help residents and businesses get back to normal following this sinkhole disaster,” said state Rep. John Chirkun (D-Roseville). “However, we need to pay more attention to infrastructure issues, because local government budgets are tight, and when disasters happen they can’t go it alone. We need to decide how we are going to respond if, or when, something like this happens again.”