No extra money for fighting Indiana’s opioid crisis

INDIANAPOLIS (WANE)-  The fight against Indiana’s opioid crisis won’t be getting any extra state money next year. But, lawmakers say it won’t be a problem. Opioids have many Hoosiers in its talons.

Katie Butler, Substance use Program Supervisor for Families First in Indianapolis said  “Opioids…they really grab hold of a person. It’s a much harder one to deal with, to withdraw from.”

It is a problem that is taking a lot of money to fight. But state lawmakers’ hands are tied, as far as putting any more money toward it, at least for the next year.

The reason why has to do with how Indiana’s government is structured, and operates.

The year 2018 is not a budget year.

“That’s just the nature of our state legislature. Nobody’s getting more state funds next year, because it’s not a budget year,” Stephanie Wilson, a spokesperson for Governor Eric Holcomb said Tuesday. “There is zero concern that money is going away. The problem isn’t going away. We’re committed to solving this opioid crisis in our state.”

To some who help in the addiction fight, that’s a concern.

Katie Butler explained  “While it’s great they’re not cutting funding, that’s a great thing, we don’t want to lose any funding. To know we’ll be getting the same amount, but having to serve an increasing number of people, it does cause a little bit of stress.”

Katie Butler with Families First said they rely on state and private funding to help Hoosiers overcome addiction.

Butler explained “It’s so important. because it allows us to provide services.”

State Senator Jim Merritt (R) District 31 said lawmakers approved $5 Million per year, for 2 years last session.

State Sen. Jim Merritt  said “We all know how big of a problem this is. We know how much money we have to spend. We’re just going to have to get creative and get to work.”

Governor Eric Holcomb’s office points to his 2018 NextLevel agenda plan to fight drugs, and said set-aside state money is expected to help. Also, more than $60Million in Federal dollars are anticipated before the new year.

State Sen. Merritt explained “To me, you can’t depend upon that. We’ve got to make do with what we’ve got and make sure that we’re spending every dollar efficiently and successfully.”

No matter what goes on within state Government, Butler hopes you remember…

“Still seek help because it will be there, regardless of the funding,” She explained.

You can read the Governor’s complete NextLevel Agenda plan here http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Final%20Agenda%20Handout.pdf

To learn more about Indiana’s Opioid Treatment Program, click here https://www.in.gov/fssa/dmha/4469.htm