State Rep. Doug Green:
State budget prioritizes the heroin and opioid epidemic

Doug Green

It is hard to believe that the first half of 2017 is already over. As I look back at what the state legislature has accomplished so far, the state operating budget immediately comes to mind. This year, we prioritized the opiate epidemic, as we have continued to see the death toll from overdoses rise in disturbing numbers.

Doug Green

It was necessary to have a strategy that addressed the many dimensions of this crisis.

In order to fight the epidemic through a coordinated and multifaceted approach, we initiated the HOPES (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention, Education, and Safety) Agenda. This package of investments represents an important part of the final budget bill signed by the governor, and provided $180 million in new money to tackle opioid addiction from four fronts: prevention, treatment, mental health, and our workforce.

We recognized that prevention is crucial to getting in front of addiction before it begins. Because technology is increasingly a useful tool, investments were made to help develop a mobile app that guides individuals to the right resources and provides pertinent information about addiction. We also allocated millions in new public health programs.

Regarding treatment options, we invested $32 million in treatment and detox programs to assist those currently addicted. In order to provide for the loved ones of these individuals, especially children, we set aside $30 million for Child Protective Services and for kinship care. ADAMHS boards received $14 million and funding for drug court programs was expanded by $6 million.

We saw that it was important to invest in stabilization centers, state supplements to disabled individuals, a drug court pilot program, and probation improvement and incentive grants, as addiction and mental health are often intricately related. Finally, the legislature allocated funds to workforce recruitment and certificate programs to support recovering addicts as they prepare to find work and provide for their families.

As you can see, the opiate epidemic is a complex, multidimensional issue, and combatting it requires a wide range of resources.

I was proud to vote for this budget bill that contains several important provisions in the continuing fight against opiate addiction.

If you have any questions or concerns about the HOPES Agenda or desire more information, please do not hesitate to contact my office.