ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York State lawmakers on both side of the aisle are speaking out against cuts to substance abuse treatment funding.
“I think if you talk to any New Yorker, some way shape or form, they have been affected by someone that’s overdosed, or that has a substance abuse problem,” said Assemblyman Chris Tague.
The Buffalo News reported a 31 percent reduction in state payments to local governments for the programs.
In a statement, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal said:
“A 31% cut for addiction treatment providers at a time when overdose deaths are increasing will mean more people will die from preventable overdoses as community-based treatment providers are forced to close their doors…”
Senator Pete Harckham echoed that saying, “It is certain that substantial decreases in funding to valuable, community-based treatment programs will add a great deal of woe to residents who need more help, not less, during this medical emergency…”
Lawmakers say overdoses are going up statewide as the pandemic continues.
“[There’s] less than 30,000 people in Schohaire County; we’ve had six overdoses in the last two months,” Tague said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has said if the federal government does not provide a relief package for states, New York could face 20 percent cuts across the board. Tague says raising taxes is not the answer.
“We don’t need to raise taxes in this state. We need to get rid of regulation that’s nutso and let these people run their businesses,” said Tague.
Harckham and Rosenthal, on the other hand, have signed a statement to not allow state budget cuts without raising taxes on “ultra-millionaires” and billionaires.
New York State Division of the Budget Spokesman Freeman Klopott provided this statement in regards to substance abuse treatment funding:
“There has been no permanent reduction in support for these services at this time. Instead, the State is holding back a portion of payments as it contends with a cash crunch caused by a 14% drop in revenue due entirely to the pandemic and the federal decision to delay income tax payments by three months; and the State needs the federal government to deliver much-delayed funding to cover this revenue loss so that we can continue to provide support for the most vulnerable New Yorkers. As the federal government continues in its failure to deliver, the State has reduced spending by $6.3 billion since the fiscal year began in April by freezing hiring, new contracts and pay raises, and holding back portions of payments across the board. Anywhere we don’t slow spending means lower spending for another program, and in addition to support for our vulnerable neighbors, the State funds schools, health care, roads, and courts, among other critical services that New Yorkers rely upon every day.”