When embattled Gov. Snyder visited the Michigan Chronicle on Monday, Feb. 22 for an exclusive interview, he came prepared to face the hard questions with candid responses to the brief litany of questions MC staff would pose to him. Snyder initiated the interview by first discussion the proposed 2016-2017 FY budget and the promise it holds to provide solutions to resolve several of the most critical challenges facing the state, and in particular Detroit’s failing schools which serve an estimated 45,000 students and the Flint Water Crisis tragedy which continues to garner attention throughout the state, across the country and around the world. Snyder pointed to four new items in the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget to address issues some of which have been eclipsed by the state’s most pressing challenges.
On budget line items for DPS and the Flint Water Crisis …
“We have identified and allocated dollars to cover everything from helping with water and water infrastructure [in Flint], to food and nutrition, to health and educational needs, to help with water bill and then a large reserve fund in terms of structure … so that’s a significant investment.
“The second piece would be the Detroit Public Schools providing $72 million over 10 years, with those funds coming out of tobacco settlement proceeds which is critically important. We’ll also provide $50 million in a supplemental bill to go with that also that would help pay back the debt for DPS, which is projected to be $515 million dollars by the middle of the year. That would leave about $200 million dollars for investment by the new school district to improve facilities and improve services to really help the new school district be successful
On the state infrastructure fund …
“Instead of doing a rainy day fund deposit is to put a $165 million deposit in a state infrastructure fund. Just as we have the issue in Flint with lead pipes and things that are a concern, I want to set setting our sights on dollars and say we have a bigger issue through many communities in our state with old infrastructure. This wouldn’t be able to solve it on its own, but it could be a catalyst to say here’s a starting point to identify ways to deal with all infrastructure across Michigan.
And then the fourth category that came up was something that wasn’t part of the normal process, but a large investment is we’re having to do a large investment at cost of $135 million a year for two new specialty drugs to help with Medicaid in our corrections population for Hepatitis C and cystic fibrosis.
Snyder adds that with the general budget the state’s legislators are making good investments in schools and school foundation allowances, along with additional money for career track education and increased investment in higher education.