Hamtramck – Democratic lawmakers on Monday paved the way for more than $ 1 billion in federal aid to replace lead pipes in Michigan.
The pipeline replacement is expected to begin in June, US MP Brenda Lawrence said at a press conference to announce plans for infrastructure repairs across the state at Hamtramck City Hall on Monday.
“(If) you don’t fix something and try to just ignore it, it will wake you up and realize how devastating it is not to invest in our infrastructure,” said Lawrence.
Lawrence appeared with Detroit State Senator Adam Hollier and Hamtramck Rep. Abraham Aiyash to discuss the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Bill, enacted Nov. 15 by President Joe Biden, a comprehensive bill Social spending, which was passed in the House of Representatives on Friday but faces an uphill battle in the 50-50 Senate.
Biden’s bipartisan bill, which Lawrence described as a “historic investment” in roads, bridges, and water infrastructure, includes approximately $ 10 billion in funding for Michigan, with $ 1.3 billion earmarked for pipe replacement.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive directive Monday for state departments and agencies to work with the legislature and prepare the state to implement lead replacement and other water projects when the federal money arrives.
“With this directive, we’re accelerating the schedule to replace 100% of senior service lines in Michigan, prioritizing communities that are disproportionately affected, promoting improved collaboration between departments, and ensuring that projects are built by Michigan employees and companies Whitmer said in a press release, “I look forward to working with the legislature to put those dollars in and get the job done.”
In October, Hamtramck became the last Michigan city to learn that its drinking water has exceeded federal lead limits in recent years after Flint and Benton Harbor.
A federal judge in November approved a $ 626 million settlement for more than half of Flint residents who were exposed to lead from the city’s pipes.
“I am confident that we can achieve our goal of replacing 100% of the leading service lines in Benton Harbor within 18 months and the 1.3 billion US dollars that were made available to us under the bipartisan federal infrastructure law specifically for water, to use to protect safe drinking water in every community. Whitmer said in a statement in early November.
Lawrence said skilled workers would be vital in repairing water systems in Michigan and across the country, pledging that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would support high-paying jobs for workers who represented their communities.
Lawrence urged unions, which she believed could play an important role, to increase apprenticeship training for the jobs. She also called on communities to encourage high school students and young adults who may not be interested in college or career path to consider training.
“Working with your hands and learning a skill is transformative,” she said, adding that some of these jobs could make employees in excess of $ 80,000 a year.
They said the money needs to be paid out quickly, unlike the federal COVID-19 aid that the state has not yet issued.
“Maybe this year we’ll get some money from the federal government for the first time, (and) we’ll get it out quickly,” said Hollier.
Aiyash cited an example of $ 570 million in unused relief for renters and landlords. “With the cash injection, we hope that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will spend the money quickly,” he said. “We are heading for a very cold winter and our colleagues are sitting on this money and it is just gathering dust.”
The Michigan Republican Party spoke about Biden’s Build Back Better agenda on Monday.
“It’s a shame the Democrats are promoting Build Back Broke, which is raising taxes for the Michigan working class and reducing taxes for the rich,” said Gustavo Portela, Michigan GOP communications director.
“Build Back Broke will put this downward economic spiral of Joe Biden and Gretchen Whitmer on steroids, which further harms working class Michiganders. We will continue to fight this catastrophic economic agenda body and soul because that is the opposite of what Michiganers need right now. ”
Biden and other Democrats have vowed that individuals earning less than $ 400,000 and couples earning less than $ 450,000 would stop paying additional taxes to fund the plan, according to the Associated Press, he said would be paid by taxing wealthier Americans and corporations.
Lawrence said the funding would come with tighter oversight of how and whether states use the money.
“… They start playing political games with the allocation of funds to the parishes and constituencies. And so we consciously work through it so that the money has to be passed on directly to the cities.
“And then the councilors, the mayor and the city administrator have to get together to decide the projects you need to invest in.”