"Not enough on Flint": Lawmakers react to State of the State address

Posted at 7:12 AM, Jan 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-18 10:51:25-05

Two minutes, that's roughly the time Gov. Rick Snyder spent discussing ways the Flint water crisis in his seventh State of the State address on Tuesday.

In his address last year, Gov. Snyder apologized for the public health crisis and promised to fix it, a promise some local lawmakers say they don't believe the Governor is keeping.

"We all owe the people of Flint a solution and we've been working to give that to them," Snyder said.

Rep. Sam Singh, (D-East Lansing), says he only heard Snyder focus on the short-term fixes. Thousands of people poisoned by the city's lead tainted water are continuing to deal with the effects, and they're still being told not to drink unfiltered tap water. Those are just some of the reasons Singh says they deserved more from the Governor.

"If you talk to any resident of Flint they don't believe enough has been done," Singh said."It's one of the biggest health crises that the state has ever felt and dealt with, so for us to only get a couple minutes about half way through his speech was disappointing."

It's a sentiment echoed by Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., (D-Lansing), saying he wanted to hear the Governor address how the state will meet long-term health needs that come with lead poisoning. That topic never came up in the speech.

"Nine-thousand kids were poisoned and we're going to have to pay for that for a very long time," Herel said. "I think we've acknowledged what the problem is but I haven't seen a long term solution for the people of Flint."

Across the aisle, Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekof, (R-West Olive), believes the Governor is handling that issue.

"I think it's only important to people in the media anymore," Meekof said. "The people that are in Flint are getting clean fresh water tested and verified, federal funding is coming to help replace more of the pipes, and I think we're on the right path to solving that issue."

Coupling that with replacing the state's aging infrastructure, other Republicans saw the Governor moving forward, both trying to prevent a future crisis and invest the state's money wisely.

"If you go in and repave a road maybe you replace the water line underneath it at the same time instead of paving a road one year and then replacing the water main the next year," said Rep. Tom Barrett
(R) Potterville. "I think it makes sense to do those together and the Governor was pointing that out."

But Democrats say that part of the speech left them with more answers than questions.

"I wanted to hear more concrete information about the plans that were discussed," Singh said. "We all agree that the infrastructure in the state whether it's the roads, our bridges, our water systems--are inadequate. What we did not hear are details. How are we going to fund that? How are you going to deal with these types of issues?"

At a news conference after the State of the State, Singh did say he and other Democrats could agree on the broad points in the speech about improving the economy, adding more jobs, and helping the state's veterans.