GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law $28 million in emergency funding to address Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis.
The Republican governor signed the measure Friday afternoon at a Michigan Press Association meeting in Grand Rapids.
He says the funding will provide immediate resources in Flint but is not the end of state assistance.
“The focus needs to be on re-establishing trust, and getting so the water coming out of that tap is safe and clean again,” Snyder said.
The House and Senate unanimously approved the bill on Thursday just over a week after the funding was proposed by Gov. Snyder.
On Friday, Snyder once again shouldered part of the responsibility for Flint’s water crisis.
“There was failure at the local, the state and the federal level,” Snyder said, just before signing the legislation.
The money will pay for bottled water, faucet filters, testing kits, additional school nurses, medical treatment and to help the city with unpaid water bills.
There is also funding to hire outside experts to assess whether Flint’s water system infrastructure must be replaced or repaired.
This is the second round of funding enacted since the crisis was confirmed in the fall, bringing the total allocated to nearly $39 million. Snyder has promised to put forward more funding for Flint in his upcoming annual budget proposal — when he also will detail plans for a one-time $575 million surplus — but has not said how much.
Flint’s water became contaminated when the city, under emergency state management, switched from the Detroit municipal system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money.
Critics blame Snyder and his administration for being slow to act on the crisis, after Flint residents began questioned the quality of their water shortly after the switch.
“It’s time to stand up and recognize that things could have been done differently. What do you learn from that? How do you make sure it never happens again and how do you be better and stronger moving forward,” Snyder told the gathering on Friday.
Snyder also provided a rundown, a sort of crisis by the numbers, of what’s happened in Flint since the emergency was declared. The governor says so far, over 20,000 filters have been placed on water taps in Flint homes. Over 200,000 cases of bottled water have been handed out to residents.
“We have identified, in terms of test results even over the last few months, about 45 kids out of a couple of thousands tested that have high blood lead levels, but we are assuming a lot of other kids could have it because lead in blood only stays for so long,” the governor said.
On Friday, Snyder also talked about addressing future issues, like medical and educational problems from children who were exposed to the lead-tainted water.
More state and federal assistance is likely to come in the future.