Michigan will borrow $600 million for Flint water settlement

Bipartisan legislation to allocate the state’s share is moving through the Legislature
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 11:31 AM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan lawmakers passed a plan to borrow $600 million to fund the state’s proposed settlement with the residents of Flint.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration announced a settlement to class action lawsuits from residents whose municipal water supply was contaminated with elevated levels of lead.

Under the bipartisan legislation approved Wednesday, the loan from a state economic development fund would cost more than $1 billion to repay over 30 years -- or $35 million annually. It’s believed to be the state government’s largest-ever legal settlement.

A federal judge is considering whether to approve the proposed $641.2 million settlement. Besides the state’s contribution, the city of Flint and McLaren Flint Hospital each have proposed $20 million payments while Rowe Professional Services is offering $1.2 million.

The settlement fund would be distributed to Flint residents through a court-appointed manager. The process of applying for a share of the settlement has not started.

The proposal calls for giving 80% of the settlement fund to young children who consumed Flint water from 2014 to 2016. Adults and businesses would receive smaller payments if the judge approves the current proposal.

Flint switched its drinking water source from the Detroit municipal system to the Flint River in April 2014 in a money-saving move while under supervision of a state financial manager. The Flint River water was more corrosive and not treated properly, which caused it to eat away the protective lining on lead and galvanized water service lines.

Without the lining in place, tiny particles of lead broke off the pipes and contaminated the water at thousands of residents.

Excessive levels of lead have been linked to developmental delays in children and a variety of other health problems.

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