The state of Michigan has a $460 million dollar budget hole, according to new estimates released yesterday, and also will have to find a way to cut that much out of its budgets for 2016 and 2017. That could have a major impact on the amount of money available to help Flint, which is still very much in the midst of the water crisis, and the Detroit Public Schools, which are mired in debt, and set to run out of money in June.
Here & Now's Robin Young talks to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder about how he's handled the situations in Flint and with the Detroit Public Schools, and how he plans to prioritize both going forward, given the state's budget shortfall.
Interview Highlights: Gov. Rick Snyder
Has the Flint water crisis changed your views on how to run government?
“It is a terrible crisis and we have been working hard to fix it. This was a failure of government at multiple levels, and particularly the state level. We really had a case where water quality experts that had been with the state for decades, and in one case made some poor decisions and essentially $150 a day of chemicals weren’t added to help protect the pipes. We’ve got a lot of great people working for the state, but this was a failure point.”
Do you think you were too isolated, looking at spreadsheets and numbers instead of communicating with actual people?
“Again, as a separate question, I think there were communication issues that we need to improve, and we take a lot of steps to make improvements in that. I’ve made it clear that, again these people were on my watch, I’m responsible for the whole state so I took responsibility for that and we’ve done a number of steps in terms of putting improvement performance measures in place to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I made it clear in the state of the state, I want to hear about these issues and I need to hear about them so we can take prompt action to address them.”
What will you do to restore peoples’ faith in you as governor?
“You just keep working. You just keep working on putting solutions in place and moving forward, and that’s what’s been happening. We’re seeing a lot of progress in Flint with respect to Medicaid waiver program that I think was an excellent program. We’ve replaced fixtures in the schools, again, we’re continuing to provide emergency supplies, we’ve improved nutrition opportunities in terms of food bank, we’ve done things with early childhood education programs, we’re working on economic development programs to bring more jobs to Flint and in Detroit there’s been a solid proposal for a solution for some time and we’re working through the legislative process. You just work hard on solving the issues and moving forward.”
This segment aired on May 18, 2016.