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Gov. Whitmer signs ‘Building Michigan Together Plan’

portrait: Whitmer
michigan.gov

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a $4.7 billion bipartisan infrastructure spending bill into law Wednesday.

It designates nearly $2 billion of that money for water-related priorities like clean drinking water and safe dams.

Whitmer said it will help prevent future lead-service-line-related issues like those seen in Flint and Benton Harbor.

“When the water’s treated, when it’s maintained, it’s safe to drink. However, we know that it’s important that we continue our work to replace these lines. So, these resources will go a long way toward making sure that we’re protecting people and the quality of their drinking water,” Whitmer said at a bill signing press conference in Grand Rapids.

The law, dubbed the “Building Michigan Together Plan,” uses over $4 billion of federal money.

Whitmer said many other Midwestern states have already spent the money they received.

“Every day that these dollars aren’t appropriated has an opportunity cost with it. We see inflation continue to eat more of what we’re able to do with these dollars. And certainly, workforce is another complicating factor,” Whitmer said.

According to the state budget office, Whitmer said, the state still has about $2 billion left to allocate.

Whitmer said more money from a federal infrastructure package will start arriving in May.

Highlighted spending areas in the Building Michigan Together Plan include:

  • $1.1 billion for drinking water infrastructure
  • $380 million in COVID-19 rental assistance
  • $250 million for state parks and trail infrastructure
  • $200 million for local parks and trail infrastructure
  • $322 million from the Federal Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund for local governments
  • $251 million for broadband service grants

State Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) said she’s excited about the ways her district plans to use that parks money.

“Here in Grand Rapids, we’ve been dreaming, planning, and working to reinvent our relationship with the river that defines our city by restoring the rapids and creating a riverfront corridor that invites us to interact with the river and each other in whole new ways,” Brinks said.

Besides allowing for the building out of a greenways trail stretching along the Grand River from Lowell to Lake Michigan, the money would also fund broadband expansion efforts in the state.

Speaking from the White House Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist described the funding of broadband grants and the Michigan High-speed Internet Office as transformative for the state’s communities.

“[It] will enable us to target those investments in the communities that need the most, to support the innovators in Michigan who are building new networks to connect new communities. It’ll support those innovators who are building partnerships to make internet access more affordable,” Gilchrist said.

Whitmer created the Michigan High-speed Internet Office last spring to coordinate broadband expansion efforts, but lawmakers hadn’t funded staff for it until now.

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