Snyder delivers 7th State of the State address - WNEM TV 5

Snyder delivers 7th State of the State address

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Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his seventh State of the State address to a joint session of the Michigan Legislature on Tuesday.

The Republican's speech Tuesday night comes a year after he devoted much of his address to discussing Flint's water emergency at a time he faced heavy criticism for failures that led to and prolonged the crisis.

Snyder said Flint's water crisis and a sinkhole in suburban Detroit show the need to start discussing how to pay for billions of dollars in needed infrastructure upgrades over the next several decades.

He is not proposing a specific way to pay for water, sewer and other infrastructure projects. But he made infrastructure a theme in his seventh annual State of the State address Tuesday night to the Legislature.

The Republican governor tells The Associated Press that to start, there must be better coordination so local road, sewer and other projects occur simultaneously to save money.

In December, an infrastructure commission formed by Snyder identified the need for $4 billion more annually to upgrade roads, water systems and other key infrastructure such as pipelines and broadband Internet.

"I think there's an opportunity here to convince Flint residents that he's really concerned about the city of Flint and that, not only has he taken ownership of what happened here, but he's committed to getting people's lives back to normal," said Sylvester Jones, Flint resident.

Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee said Gov. Rick Snyder must do more to resolve Flint's water crisis.

Kildee, a Democratic congressman who may run for governor, said the Flint emergency is Snyder's responsibility and "they need to do more."

Flint's water quality is improving after it became contaminated with lead due to improper treatment. But residents are still using faucet filters or bottled water.

Kildee, speaking with reporters in Lansing, said the crisis isn't over.

He said he hasn't decided yet on running for governor in 2018, but doesn't think voters are ready to move beyond the presidential race to focus on another election.

Snyder also said he will try to persuade Republicans in Congress that the state's Medicaid expansion is a success and a model that can work nationally.

He said "we hope for the best, but we can't count on it." He will travel to Washington on Thursday to discuss the Medicaid expansion, which has provided health insurance to 600,000 low-income adults in Michigan, but which is in jeopardy as Republicans seek to repeal the federal health care law.

Snyder says Michigan should be "speaking up" about the expansion.

State Senator Jim Stamas, R-Midland, released the following statement following Snyder's speech:

Governor Snyder laid out a proactive plan to build on the achievements we’ve made to improve our great state and energize our economy. Working with the governor, we’ve reduced unemployment by two-thirds, helped create more than 480,000 private sector jobs and repeatedly increased spending on education to record levels.

It’s a positive record of achievement, yet we have a lot of work to do. We must continue to focus on finding solutions to meet the challenges facing our state.

I look forward to working with the governor to fix our aging infrastructure, protect our communities, ensure that all Michigan students get an education that prepares them for success, provide tax relief for hardworking families, and make state government better and more accountable.

I also look forward to hearing from the people of the 36th Senate District about their priorities.”

Congressman Dan Kildee released the following statement:

Governor Snyder has failed Flint families. It is disgraceful that a city of 100,000 people still doesn’t have clean drinking water and the Governor could barely devote two minutes of his State of the State to Flint. Just two minutes dedicated to Flint? Really? This is an ongoing emergency– people in my hometown are still drinking bottled water and using filters. The Governor is either completely aloof or simply doesn’t care about Flint.

Shame on the Governor for not using tonight to outline additional steps that he is going to take to ensure clean drinking water in Flint. I will not rest until the Governor and the state step up to do more to help the city recover from this man-made crisis.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said:

I was happy to hear Governor Rick Snyder pledge to continue to help Flint recover from the water crisis affecting the city and its citizens through no fault of their own. While we’re grateful for the ways the state has stepped up in the past year to help Flint and its residents, so much more remains to be done.

“=Replacing the lead and galvanized steel service lines at thousands more homes is imperative because residents still can’t drink the water unless it first goes through a filter. Although we’ve replaced pipes leading to nearly 800 homes, we still don’t have enough money from the state and federal governments to fulfill my pledge to replace all the lead-tainted service lines leading to nearly 20,000 homes over the next three years through my FAST Start program. That needs to change.

“=As we continue to deal with this unprecedented health crisis, it’s imperative that the state continue to provide access to health care for all of Flint’s children, youth and pregnant women; early childhood education for preschoolers; access to healthier food that can help mitigate some of the effects of lead poisoning; and more jobs. We also need to know that the money won’t run out for the bottled water and filters so many people depend on. Only then can Flint, and its residents, gain a brighter future.

Copyright 2017 WNEM (Meredith Corporation) / The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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