While the eyes of the nation were on the impeachment trial taking place in the U.S. Senate, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced her 2022 budget proposal. Included in her recommendations are a number of important investments critical to the protection of public health and our environment.
The Governor’s recommendations mark the start of what is typically a lengthy process involving extensive legislative deliberation and negotiation until compromise is reached. For the state budget announced on February 11, the Governor’s recommendations include focusing on the safety of our drinking water, tackling climate change and clean energy, and public health.
With this budget, Gov. Whitmer is taking a proactive approach to protect our health and build back our economy so we can recover from the COVID pandemic and come back even stronger.
Clean & Safe Drinking Water
Two of the biggest threats to clean, safe and affordable drinking water for every Michigander are our state’s aging water infrastructure and toxins, like lead and PFAS. Gov. Whitmer’s budget will allocate significant and much-needed funding to address both problems.
The Governor recommended funding for the MI Clean Water Plan, a proposal to overhaul and upgrade Michigan’s aging water infrastructure and water service lines to protect drinking water and public health. Gov. Whitmer’s 2022 budget recommendations include $290 million that will go towards addressing the septics and sewage issues facing our state, helping to mitigate biological contamination from E.coli and nutrient runoff that often contributes to toxic algae blooms in the summer. Additionally, $40 million was recommended to address the growing stormwater and flooding problems in Michigan.
After the horrifying flooding from the Edenville dam collapse last year caused by extreme rainfall, Gov. Whitmer’s recommendations included $15 million in funding that would go to a dam safety emergency fund. Events like Edenville will become more common as climate change accelerates, affecting Michigan communities. This funding is critical to ensure that disasters like Edenville, are mitigated to the best of our ability and will be effective moving forward.
$55 million was recommended to support the Filter First program, which will protect kids in schools by installing filtered drinking water stations so kids have clean water to drink that is free from lead and other toxic contaminants. Schools’ drinking water has been shown to be at greater risk of being exposed to harmful contaminants like lead, PFAS, and legionella, with water sitting in aging service lines for long periods of time during seasonal breaks. Filter First is proven to be the most effective, cost efficient way to protect schools’ drinking water, with the alternative being a complete overhaul of schools’ water infrastructure, costing hundreds of millions more. We joined a coalition of organizations hailing the bi-partisan proposal with details in a press release that you can read here.
Protecting Public Health & Safety
As Michigan continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, public health and protecting those most vulnerable has never been more important. Gov. Whitmer included several public health recommendations in the 2022 budget.
With people spending more time at home due to the pandemic, Gov. Whitmer’s budget recommendation includes important items to ensure that Michigan homes are safe. Gov. Whitmer’s proposal includes $10 million in funding for a Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund that will help leverage private capital to ensure lead is out of Michigan homes and does not pose a threat to public health any longer. Gov. Whitmer also recommended $5 million in additional funding for a Home Health and Safety pilot program under which Michigan families get improved access to weatherization, improving energy efficiency.
In addition to annual funding provided through Michigan’s Bottle Deposit law, $20 million will be allocated to contaminated site clean up. The prospect of significant funding to address toxic PFAS and chemical contamination in more than 24,000 registered contaminated sites across the state is a step in the right direction. The recommended funding will allow for accelerated, meaningful clean up of dangerous, contaminated sites.
A $1.6 million investment in the Race, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Office was also included in the budget to ensure programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services take into account inequities in our communities and resources are distributed accordingly. As Gov. Whitmer continues to purposefully center issues of environmental justice and equity in addressing the climate crisis, this funding will benefit Black and Brown communities that are disproportionately impacted by public health issues.
Advancing Energy & Electrification
After announcing her MI Healthy Climate Plan last September, Gov. Whitmer’s $35 million recommendation to address climate and energy corresponds with her outlined commitment to transitioning Michigan to a 100% clean energy economy by 2050.
$25 million was recommended to support the Mobility Futures Initiative, which is geared towards EVs and autonomous vehicles, aiding in development and accessibility. This is particularly exciting given General Motors’ recently announced goal of an all-EV fleet by 2035.
An additional $10 million was recommended to improve energy efficiency in homes, schools and businesses. This funding will be split in half: $5 million for the Green Revolving Fund, helping to provide financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at state facilities and schools while the remaining $5 million will be allotted to the MI Saves Green Bank, the nation’s first non-profit green banking institution focusing on improving access to clean energy solutions, providing equitable financing to reduce the carbon footprint for homeowners and businesses.
The Michigan LCV team has worked closely with the administration over the past two years in addressing the many challenges to our public health and infrastructure. We proudly supported the Governor in her bold announcements last year around both the water and climate crises. This is a budget well worth celebrating as it tackles some of the biggest threats to the people of Michigan. Now we’ve got to get it across the finish line.
Read our full press statement reacting to the Governor’s budget announcement here.