Today, Governor Rick Snyder announced his budget for FY2019. The Governor has yet again neglected to mention that the city of Flint still does not have access to clean, safe drinking water while proposing an additional investment of $25.9M to Flint for service line replacements. He neglected to mention that Michigan is currently giving 130 million gallons of our groundwater to Nestle while only charging them $200/year when they make over $300 million/year from our public resource. We could certainly fix the water mains in Flint much faster if Nestle was charged an equitable fee for their water withdrawal. He has yet again neglected to include the full costs of fixing Flint in the 2019 budget, allowing for this crisis to continue and be passed on to his successor. While he may be leaving the state with a projected “rainy day” fund of $922 million, he is also leaving our state with our own version of Katrina with a cost to fix of $1.2 - $4 billion.
Public education in Michigan, with our history of cuts and lack of proper funding across the board has caused this “talent crisis” in our state. We have a lost generation of Michiganders who have been failed by our government over the past decade and are now in an economy that may have more jobs, but those jobs have lower pay, less benefits, and have caused a majority of our schools to have a high percentage of students fall in the low-income category for Title I assistance. The increase of per pupil funding and closing the gap between school districts is necessary, but a $120 - $240 per pupil increase is still not enough to help our students have access to proper technology, support staff, lower class sizes, curriculum, or simple building maintenance. Our state’s economy relies on our future, and with all of his talk on saving money for our state’s future, we must invest in our children or we won’t have much of one.
To the protesters outside of the budget hearing, thank you. I hear you. I stand with you. We need a leader in Michigan who both understands budgets and finance, and also the human costs of improper budgeting and economic priorities for the wealthy, and not the average citizen.