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Snyder Apologizes To People Of Flint During State Of The State Address, Promises To Not Let Down Again

LANSING (WWJ/AP) - An apology from Governor Rick Snyder to the residents of Flint -- in the wake of the water crisis -- as he delivered his State of the State Address Tuesday night.

"When Michiganders turn on the tap they expect and deserve clean water," said Snyder. "It's that simple. It's that straight forward - so that's what we'll deliver. To the families in Flint - it is my responsibility, my commitment to deliver, I give you my commitment that Michigan will not let you down."

The second-term Republican, who devoted most of his annual speech to the emergency in Flint, also pledged greater transparency. He said he would release on Wednesday his own emails regarding Flint's water, which became contaminated with too much lead when the city switched its water source in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure. The emails can be read online at

"I'm sorry most of all that I let you down," Snyder said in the 49-minute address, which came as his administration is engulfed in criticism from across the country and as hundreds of protesters demonstrated outside the Capitol. "You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the buck stops here with me. Most of all, you deserve to know the truth, and I have a responsibility to tell the truth."

Corrosive water from the Flint River caused lead to leach from old pipes into homes after the city switched over from Detroit's water system to save money in 2014. Tests later showed high levels of lead in the blood of some local children.


The lead contamination — which can lead to behavior problems and learning disabilities in children and kidney ailments in adults — has left Flint residents unable to drink unfiltered tap water. The National Guard, state employees, local authorities and volunteers have been distributing lead tests, filters and bottled water. Snyder aides pledged that by the end of the week officials would visit every household in Flint to ensure they have water filters.

Democrats said Snyder only recently admitted the magnitude of the fiasco, at least three months too late.

"This is the kind of disaster, the kind of failure to deliver basic services that hurts people's trust in government," House Minority Leader Tim Greimel said.

In his speech, Snyder committed $28 million more in the short term to pay for more filters, bottled water, school nurses, intervention specialists, testing and monitoring — on top of $10.6 million allocated in the fall. The money also would replace plumbing fixtures in schools with lead problems and could help Flint with unpaid water bills.

The new round of funding, which requires approval from the GOP-led Legislature, is intended as another short-range step while Snyder works to get a better handle on the long-range costs. He plans to make a bigger request in his February budget proposal.

Snyder also announced the deployment of roughly 130 more National Guard members to the city and revealed his appeal of President Barack Obama's denial of a federal disaster declaration for the area.

"To you, the people of Flint, I say tonight as I have before: I am sorry, and I will fix it," he said.


Switching gears from Flint, Snyder says legislators need to find a fix to chip away at the massive debt at the Detroit Public Schools.

"By the summer it'll be over $550 million in debt," said Snyder. "To achieve the academic outcomes financial stability in Detroit public schools must be achieved -- over $1100 per-student is going to debt service, and not the classroom. Let's solve this problem and help the kids."

Snyder also:

- Announced that he will appoint a commission on 21st century education to identify how to improve governance, funding systems and career and college readiness.

- Announced that he will convene a commission to study and make recommendations about Michigan's infrastructure needs, threats, opportunities and costs. Priorities will include water and sewer infrastructure, energy and electrical grids, broadband modernization and upgrading the aging Soo Locks.

- Said he will issue an executive order instructing the Michigan Department of Transportation to confer with local officials and utilities every time a new road project is undertaken, saying it is the best time to assess if underground infrastructure should be replaced.

- Asked legislators to consider requiring local governments to also communicate with utilities before local road projects begin.

- Highlighted the importance of Michigan keeping pace with the move toward autonomous and connected vehicles, saying previous initiatives have not been good enough. He wants to create the American Center for Mobility at General Motors' former Willow Run plant to be "the world's best place to test intelligent vehicles." He hopes to partner with the federal government.

- Committed to work with Congress on allocating money to build an additional shipping lock on the river that connects Lakes Huron and Superior. Only one of the four Soo Locks is large enough to handle the ships that carry 70 percent of cargo moving through the locks.


TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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