Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that he helped pass the Assembly’s 2018-19 state budget proposal, which includes measures to curb opioid dependence and increases funding for treatment programs to help combat the epidemic.
“One life lost to drug addiction is one too many,” Steck said. “The opioid crisis has devastated communities in every corner of the state and the Capital Region is no exception. We must do everything in our power to stop this deadly trend, spread awareness and make recovery possible for more New Yorkers.”
While Albany County saw a drop in fatal overdoses – 26 in 2016, down from 31 in 2015 – Schenectady County saw an increase – 29 in 2016, up from 12 deaths the year before.1 These statistics underscore the devastating toll of the opioid crisis and the need for proactive measures to save lives, Steck noted.
The Assembly’s plan creates a 2.5 cents-per-morphine milligram equivalent surcharge on opioid distribution – up from the governor’s proposed 0.5 cents. The funding raised from the surcharge – approximately $158 million – will help fund treatment, prevention, education and recovery programs as well as workforce recruitment and alternative-to-incarceration programs. The surcharge would not apply to pharmacies or hospitals. The appropriations breakdown from the additional surcharge revenues in the Assembly’s budget proposal includes:
- $5 million for opiate abuse treatment services;
- $5 million for opiate abuse prevention activities;
- $5 million for opiate abuse recovery support services;
- $5 million for expanded alternatives-to-incarceration programming;
- $4 million for expanded opiate abuse programming in schools;
- $4 million for expanded substance use disorder services in local jails;
- $2 million for substance use disorder worker recruitment and retention incentives;
- $1.5 million to establish an independent behavioral health ombudsman program; and
- $250,000 for a certified recovery peer advocate scholarship program.