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Legislature adopts budget bill with billions for clean water, infrastructure

Nathan Dumalo

A $4.8 billion budget bill that includes spending on water cleanup, infrastructure and expanded broadband internet is on its way to Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The bill is the product of a bipartisan deal that came together just hours before the Legislature’s final session day before beginning a spring break.

Republican Representative Thomas Albert chairs the House Appropriations Committee. He said the budget mostly uses federal recovery funds to pay for critical needs.

“This funding is going to be available across the state to all these communities to make sure they’re not going to have some extremely large tax on their citizens,” he said. “This is really going to help out.”

The budget bill also includes $250 million for state parks, including a new state park in Flint.

That was good news for Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich of Flint.

“Oh, I’m very happy with it,” he said. “I think we’ve made some pretty big investments in water, housing, roads. It was a good bipartisan day.”

Some other highlights:

  • $750 million for drinking water infrastructure
  • $515 million for sewer and wastewater systems
  • $316 million for road and bridge repairs
  • $200 million for local parks
  • Also, money for pumping station generators, affordable housing and residential clean energy grants.

Rep. Albert, the House Appropriations Committee chair, says this spending bill relies heavily on federal COVID recovery dollars, so that tees up a future discussion on using a state revenue windfall to cut taxes.
“Is there still room for tax cuts? I’d say, yes, absolutely.”

The bill also includes money to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and to fix problems that have plagued the state’s unemployment system. Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to approve all or most of the spending.

“I look forward to signing it when it reaches my desk and continuing this spirit of collaboration to pass another balanced, bipartisan budget that delivers on the kitchen-table issues," the governor said in a statement.

Whitmer has announced she will seek reelection this year.

There will also be elections to fill all 148 seats in the House and the Senate.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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