Meekhof releases statement on Snyder Administration emails

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof

LANSING—Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, released a brief statement regarding the release of emails from the Governor’s office:

“These emails provide some insight into how individuals in the Administration were responding to the problems in Flint.

The primary goal of the Senate remains finding solutions so that nothing like this happens again.  It is clear that there is more information that should be considered in our plans to help the residents of Flint and protect communities throughout Michigan.  The Joint Committee on Flint will be meeting in the coming weeks to begin a review of this situation.”

New joint committee to review Flint water crisis

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and Speaker of the House Kevin Cotter today announced the creation of the Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency to review the findings surrounding the Flint water crisis, take testimony on the mistakes at all levels of government that led to this situation and explore potential policy solutions to prevent a similar disaster in the future.

The committee is made up of three members from each chamber of the Legislature, with Sen. Jim Stamas as Chair and Rep. Ed McBroom and Sen. Jim Ananich as co-vice chairs.  Majority Leader Meekhof and Speaker Cotter both accepted the recommendations for Democratic representation from their Democratic counterparts.

“No Michigan citizen should be concerned about contaminated water,” said Majority Leader Meekhof, R-West Olive.  “The families and children of Flint deserve better from government—all government.  This committee will provide the opportunity and the forum to review the causes of the crisis in Flint, ensure effective use of resources to help residents and use what we learn to prevent a similar experience in any other community.

“Senator Ananich and I have had many conversations about how the Senate can work to address the concerns of the families in Flint.  I look forward to our continued dialogue and to the work of this committee in offering solutions for the citizens and families of Flint and families across Michigan.”

“What happened in Flint is a tragedy, and the people who are affected deserve answers,” said Speaker Cotter, R-Mt. Pleasant.  “People were hurt by widespread government failures, and changes need to be made as soon as possible.  I am committed to doing everything I can to provide answers and prevent future disasters.

“This new committee will allow us to work together to review the investigative findings from this crisis and build solutions that help this community move forward.  The Auditor General and others are doing important work investigating what went wrong, and I look forward to taking their work and doing what we can to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

The new committee will include the following members:

The Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency:

House
Senate
  • Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan – Vice Chair
  • Rep. Ed Canfield, R-Sebewaing
  • Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor
  • Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland – Chair
  • Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg
  • Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint – Vice Chair

Meekhof comments on FY 2017 budget presentation

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof

Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof

LANSING— Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, issued the following statement today regarding Gov. Snyder’s fiscal year 2017 budget presentation:

“The Governor’s budget plan reflects many Senate Republican priorities.  Over the course of the past several years, we have made progress in Michigan by adopting policies and laws that fostered economic turnaround and prosperity for Michigan families.

Unfortunately, recent failures at all levels of government have resulted in the spotlight once again being turned on our state.  In the coming months, the Senate Republicans pledge to work with the Governor, leadership in the House and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle through the budget process to bring additional aide to Flint.  The Senate has already worked to pass more than $60 million in relief for Flint residents, but there is more work to be done.  The crisis in Flint points to the need for a statewide dialogue about maintaining and improving infrastructure so that our citizens have confidence in all levels of government to help deliver basic needs like safe water.  I am currently reviewing options for a statewide infrastructure plan for all communities.

The Senate Government Operations Committee will continue to hold hearings on the education and financial crisis in Detroit Public Schools.  In order for 47,000 children to receive a basic education, the state will work to resolve more than $500 million in debt.  I am encouraged by the Governor’s proposed solution for how to deal with the balance sheet and I am eager to continue to work on how to best reform the district so that the students of DPS have a reliable and sound education plan.

Over the course of the past few years, the Senate Republicans have supported more than $1 billion in increased funding for all students and we will continue to build upon our commitment to education in the next budget year.  Increases to the foundation allowance are necessary to ensure more dollars enter the classroom to improve every child’s education experience.  I am encouraged by the Governor’s commitment to continue to pay down retirement and benefit costs so that dollars are not siphoned out of the classroom, but instead are available for learning tools and classroom supplies.

My colleagues and I in the Senate have made commonsense career paths a priority.  The Governor’s desire to increase funding for universities and community colleges as well as money for technical and vocational training supports the Senate Republicans belief that education should be a pathway for each student to achieve his or her personal career goals.

The Governor’s plan echoes the Senate Republicans’ commitment to Michigan families by increasing funding for Healthy Kids Dental and providing additional resources for clothing allowances to better meet the needs of our most vulnerable children and families. Additional resources to increase public safety through the hiring of additional troopers and funds to deliver prescription medicines are in keeping with the Senate Republicans desire to keep our citizens safe and healthy.

The budget presentation begins a collaborative process between the legislature and the Governor.  The Senate will take time to review the specifics of this plan, communicate with our constituents, and begin the deliberative process of working through the budget and working with the House and the Governor to deliver a comprehensive plan for Michigan well in advance of our October 1st deadline.”

 

Senate approves $30 million for Flint residents

LANSING—The Senate took action today on legislation to provide $30 million to credit the residents of Flint for payment of their water bills since April 2014.

“Multiple levels of government have failed the people of Flint and the result is our citizens being exposed to contaminated water.  It simply does not make sense that we would expect the people of this community to pay for water they cannot drink.  I believe that swift action today is reasonable and necessary,” said Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive.

“The Senate has repeatedly responded to the outcry of the citizens of Flint.  First to reconnect to Detroit Water, then to provide resources for emergency action and relief and now to credit those people who have been responsible citizens and paid their water bills even when their drinking water was at risk.  I will continue to work with my colleagues through the budget process to pursue a long-term solution to the crisis in Flint.

Again, this was a failure at multiple levels of government and I expect those governments to join with the Michigan Senate in the pursuit of solutions,” said Meekhof.

Senate Bill 136 appropriates $30 million in the current fiscal year to the Department of Treasury to provide relief for water bills for residents in the city of Flint.  The bill requires the Department of Treasury to make quarterly reports to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees on distribution of the funds.

The bill next goes to the Michigan House of Representatives for consideration.

Text of the legislation is available via the Michigan Legislature website at www.legislature.mi.gov.