Michigan Senate approves $600 million borrowing plan for Flint water settlement

Flint Water Settlement Trust Fund created with a loan from the Michigan Strategic Fund
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 6:30 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Michigan lawmakers have come up with a plan to make sure people in Flint see the money from the proposed civil settlement to the Flint water crisis.

The Michigan Senate voted Wednesday on the state’s proposed share of $600 million will come from.

“You know, for me the focus was making sure we get the resources as quickly as possible for the families of Flint and that was the way that people agreed to it,” said Democrat State Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint. “As long as we got the money, I didn’t care where it came from.”

He and Republican State Sen. Jim Stamas of Midland introduced bills to make this work.

Ananich’s bill creates the Flint Water Settlement Trust Fund, where the $600 million owed by the state will sit until its dished out. Stamas’ bill puts the money into that fund by allowing the state to borrow from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

“So we have the money up front and then we just pay it back over time,” Ananich said.

He said the transaction is considered a loan even though the state is borrowing money from itself. Each year, the state budget will be calculated to pay back the $600 million from the general fund to the Michigan Strategic Fund

“We’re using a certain program dollars now. We’re borrowing from that, bringing it over and using it for this purpose, so it’s not costing the taxpayers anything more because it’s money we have,” Ananich said. “It’s going from one taxpayer account to another. So it’s not like you’re, you know, there’s anybody’s have to pay extra for this it’s just, instead of going to X program it goes back to the strategic funds.”

With interest, the $600 million loan will cost about $1 billion to pay back over 30 years. Ananich called the proposed settlement fair.

“At least it closes the chapter on one component that they did, they were wrong,” he said. “They were lied to now being compensated for that and then obviously the next one is the criminal charges and then we just continue to work with families in Flint for a long period of time.”

The bills now go to the State House of Representatives for a vote. If they approve them without any changes, they will head to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to become law.

The proposed settlement also includes $20 million apiece from the city of Flint and McLaren Flint Hospital, along with $1.2 million from Rowe Professional Services. A federal judge still has to approve the settlement and a process for disbursing it before Flint residents can receive their share.

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