Snyder: Flint water crisis must be a learning experience for all

LANSING (WJRT) - “Make no mistake this was a sad chapter in our state's history,” said Governor Rick Snyder during Tuesday’s State of the State address. “The people of Flint suffered an unacceptable crisis and I made a commitment to the people of Flint to fix it."

In his annual speech, the Republican said Michigan must learn from the water emergency and look at infrastructure in our entire state.

Snyder said progress has been made, but the work in Flint is not done specifically mentioning improved testing results, but continued work to repair and replace lead water lines.

Governor Snyder asked Flint Mayor Karen Weaver to stand as he talked about the city’s troubles and also thanked the state and federal lawmakers who helped Flint get the resources the city needs to recover.

He said there have been 24,000 new Medicaid waivers for Flint residents to get healthcare, more early childhood education than ever before, and 827 new jobs created since the crisis began.

The governor says Flint is an example of why we need stricter water standards and why we must make improving Michigan's infrastructure a priority.

“We know this is a huge challenge not just in Flint, but also in Frasier with the sink hole,” Snyder said. “We are at risk in every corner of Michigan for aging infrastructure. We cannot take this for granted. Michigan residents deserve safe reliable sustainable infrastructure."

The governor pointed to the need to close the gap between our K-12 education and the careers being created today through STEM education, robotics, apprenticeships and vocational training.

Snyder looked at what's ahead for our state too; challenging Michigan to be the world leader for autonomous vehicles and use our technology and talent pool to win the mobility race.

“Let’s not be nostalgic about the past. Let’s look to the future and build jobs for our kids.”

Governor Snyder's speech was one hour touching on a broad range of topics, even with a few jokes sprinkled in.

But the issues are what the audience was paying the most attention to. Governor Snyder made sure to thank the people who helped him improve the state.

Flint's Mayor Karen Weaver was one of those individuals, but she tells ABC12 News she's disappointed the Governor only spent a short amount of time the speaking about the City.

"We need that money and those resources you know and services and support for our kids and families that have been impacted by this and so I didn't hear that kind of detail," she said. "But I've told people, I've said I can fill in the blanks, we can put the detail there for ya and so we're not going to stop."

Democratic state leaders are pleased the Governor mentioned Flint, but agree with Mayor Weaver. They said they were hoping for a plan, rather than what they considered a status report on the City of Flint.

They referred to the Governor's address as anemic and if it were a soup, Senator Jim Ananich (D - Flint) said it would just be broth.

Senator Ananich explained, "Yeah, it was a lot of fluff, you know it wasn't a lot on detail. The citizens of Flint deserve better, the taxpayers all across the state deserve better."

Senator Sheldon Neeley (D - Flint) added, "We want to talk about policy changes as legislators. What can we do and what kind of partnerships can we expect from the Governor's Office in doing so."

"There's so much work to be done and I think it's going to be incumbent upon him to make sure that he keeps it at the forefront of the legislature as well," Representative Vanessa Guerra (D - Saginaw) said.

Republicans did not have an issue with how long the Governor spent speaking about Flint.

They were happy he mentioned it and acknowledged there is more work to be done; but said we can and should also take away a lot of positives from the Governor's address this year.

Senator David Robertson (R - Grand Blanc) explained, "I think it was a very upbeat speech the Governor gave, accentuating many positives, giving us a bit of a rah-rah, which every state needs to remember the good things we've done and the positive progress we've made on jobs over the last six years. Obviously there's considerable work to do, but I'm encouraged by what he said."

Senator Ken Horn (R - Frankenmuth) added, "The job growth in Michigan, the population growth, the growth in personal incomes. I think that's all positive economic signs and we're gonna need all of that to fix the infrastructure. We know we have some issues still in the state of Michigan."

Click on the ‘Related Links’ section of this web article for a link to the full State of the State address as well as other topics discussed by the Governor.