Idaho Office of Drug Policy (ODP) Director Debbie Field said Wednesday she expects to receive funding from the Idaho Millennium Fund despite the lack of a recommendation from a panel of lawmakers. Field said the Joint Millennium Fund Committee left money from the Millennium Fund for the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) to cover the ODP’s $438,000 annual operating budget.
“I think they made a statement that they didn’t want to fund personnel, rather than programs,” she said. “Yet they left money on the table for [JFAC] to make that choice.” The Joint Millennium Fund Committee left $616,200 in fund dollars available in its recommendations, which JFAC could allocate to the ODP. JFAC took similar actions last year. About $5.8 million from the Idaho Millennium Fund could be spent in the next budget year for anti-drug and addiction programs. That money comes from the state's 1998 settlement with tobacco companies.
The ODP coordinates several statewide substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. The state budget for drug treatment shrunk from $27 million to $22 million in the wake of holdbacks from the governor’s office in September. More than 5,000 people receive community treatment services a year, but there are currently more than 1,800 adolescents and felony and misdemeanor offenders waiting for treatment. Without getting that treatment, some offenders could face parole violations and potentially more time in jail. She said it would cost an additional $4.5 million to serve everyone on the waiting list. “Inability to access treatment puts additional pressure on our criminal justice partners,” she told lawmakers on JFAC Wednesday.
“That is a really frightening, disturbing thought,” said Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise. It will be up to JFAC and the Legislature to determine how much funding ODP and substance abuse treatment programs will receive.
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