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Michigan Governor Wants $30 Million To Help Pay Bills For Lead-Tainted Water

R&B singer Kem helps Mwamini Wallace carry bottled water to her vehicle in Flint, Mich., last month.
Carlos Osorio
R&B singer Kem helps Mwamini Wallace carry bottled water to her vehicle in Flint, Mich., last month.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is proposing that $30 million in state funds be used to help pay Flint residents' bills for the city's lead-tainted water.

This comes after a growing outcry from Flint residents about having to pay for water that isn't safe to drink. Residents have been relying on donated bottled water.

Michigan Radio's Kate Wells tells our Newscast unit how Snyder's proposal would work:

"Starting as early as this summer, that money would pay off a chunk of people's monthly water bills — until, eventually, it would repay them for what they spent buying water that wasn't safe to drink.

Gov. Snyder says first, though, state lawmakers have to approve the plan:

" 'People should not have to pay for water they couldn't drink, or use for cooking or other uses in that regard. And so I want to make this proposal to the Legislature.'

"This money would come out of the next fiscal year's budget. The state has allocated almost $39 million to Flint so far this year."

The Snyder administration tells The Associated Press that "an estimated 21,000 residential customers have continued paying their bills despite various water problems, while 9,000 have not."

Additionally, 21,000 petitions have arrived at Flint's City Hall demanding that "officials issue a moratorium on drinking water bills while local, state and federal officials are advising residents not to drink unfiltered tap water," MLive reported last week.

A 2014 MLive-Flint Journal analysis of "water and sewer rates in 25 communities in Genesee County shows Flint is tops with $140 per month."

"I have told Governor Snyder that Flint residents should not have to pay for water they did not and are not using," Flint's Mayor Karen Weaver told reporters last week. Weaver campaigned on a platform of vowing to address the city's water crisis.

In Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform heard testimony from several Flint officials and experts.

But much attention has focused on who wasn't testifying at the hearing: Gov. Snyder and city emergency managers who presided over the now-infamous decision to change Flint's water source. One former emergency manager in Flint, Darnell Earley, who resigned this week as emergency manager to Detroit's public schools, is now expected to testify before the congressional committee after a subpoena was reportedly issued.

The Detroit News reports that the committee's chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, had said earlier: "We're calling on the U.S. Marshals to hunt him down and serve him that subpoena."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.

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