Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder devoted most of his State of the State speech Tuesday night to the toxic water crisis in the city of Flint, apologizing to its residents and vowing "I will fix it."
The Republican Synder also pledged greater transparency, saying he would release on Wednesday his own emails regarding Flint's water, which became contaminated with too much lead when the city switched its water source in 2014 as a cost-cutting measure.
"I'm sorry most of all that I let you down," Snyder said. "You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the buck stops here with me. Most of all, you deserve to know the truth, and I have a responsibility to tell the truth."
Snyder and his administration have been deluged by criticism from state and national Democratic leaders and activists, who claim the governor admitted the magnitude of the fiasco months too late.
The crisis began when Flint, about an hour's drive from Detroit, switched its water supply from Detroit's system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money while under state financial management. Michigan's top environmental regulator Dan Wyant resigned over the failure to ensure that the Flint River water was properly treated to keep lead from pipes from leaching into the water.
"This is the kind of disaster, the kind of failure to deliver basic services that hurts people's trust in government," House Minority Leader Tim Greimel said.
However, the Environmental Protection agency's top Midwest official recently told The Detroit News the agency knew about the lack of corrosion control in the water suppy as early as this past April, but did not make the knowlege public.
In his speech, Snyder committed $28 million more in the short term to pay for more filters, bottled water, school nurses, intervention specialists, testing and monitoring — on top of $10.6 million allocated in the fall. The money also would replace plumbing fixtures in schools with lead problems and could help Flint with unpaid water bills.
The new round of funding, which requires approval from the GOP-led Legislature, is intended as another short-range step while Snyder works to get a better handle on the long-range costs. He plans to make a bigger request in his February budget proposal.
Snyder also announced the deployment of roughly 130 more National Guard members to the city and revealed his appeal of President Barack Obama's denial of a federal disaster declaration for the area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.