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Stabenow: State might need to pony up before Congress acts on Flint money

Apr 10, 2016

A Michigan U.S. Senator says a federal aid package for Flint might move through Congress quicker if state officials tap the rainy day fund and budget surplus now. 

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Sen. Debbie Stabenow and others have been pushing for hundreds of millions of federal dollars for Flint’s water crisis.

But action in Congress is stalled. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, has put a hold on the legislation. He’s expressed concern that the state of Michigan hasn’t committed to spend more of its own money to address the crisis.  

Stabenow says they are looking at ways to get around the Utah senator’s opposition, including shifting the proposal to another bill. 

The Michigan Democrat says opposition could weaken if state officials start using their rainy day fund to accelerate efforts to address Flint’s drinking water crisis.

“If they were to step up and start fixing the pipes, it would help us be able to get this done,” Stabenow told reporters on Friday in Flint. 

"It's very odd that she would make that statement and identify the fund source," says State House Speaker Kevin Cotter, "I would ask that she focus on a federal level solution and less time worried about what the state's doing."

Cotter notes the state has already allocated $70 million for Flint.   

State officials say additional money for Flint must go through the normal budget process, which is expected to take months.