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Whitmer signs bills borrowing $600 million, creating Flint water fund

A federal judge is expected to rule on the proposed settlement in January
Michigan's attorney general announced the $600 million settlement Thursday.
Michigan's attorney general announced the $600 million settlement Thursday.(File)
Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 1:01 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed bills Wednesday officially allowing Michigan to borrow $600 million and set up the Flint water crisis settlement fund.

The Michigan Legislature approved the bills earlier this month to settle numerous civil lawsuits over the state’s role in causing lead poisoning and Legionnaires’ disease after allowing the city to draw drinking water from the Flint River in April 2014 while under emergency manager control.

The bills from State Sens. Jim Ananich of Flint and Jim Stamas of Midland, which Whitmer signed Wednesday, officially create the Flint Water Settlement Fund and authorize the Treasury Department to borrow the state’s $600 million proposed share from the Michigan Strategic Fund.

The state will pay back the loan over 30 years totaling about $1 billion including interest.

“While this settlement will never be enough to compensate for what happened, it is a major step toward helping the people of Flint heal,” Whitmer said.

A federal judge likely will rule in January on whether to approve the proposed settlement. The fund also includes $20 million from the city of Flint, $20 million from McLaren Flint Hospital and $1.2 million from Rowe Professional services.

The proposed settlement submitted to U.S. District Court Judge Judith Levy calls for distributing 80% of the fund to young children who suffered lead poisoning during the Flint water crisis. The rest will go to adults, businesses and homeowners.

“There is no amount of money that can restore trust or erase the damage inflicted upon the people of Flint. While there are many who view today’s bill signing as the end of this story, for the people of Flint it is a chance at a new beginning,” Ananich said. “This settlement is a measure of justice for the victims of the water crisis, and specifically the children of Flint who may endure the impact of lead poisoning for years to come.”

Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley asked for prayers as the city continues recovering from the water crisis and dealing with its effects.

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