Lawmakers introduced a bill to fully restore the state’s chronically depleted Alcohol Fund on Tuesday.
Sen. Jay Kahn, a Democrat from Keene and the bill’s prime sponsor, said the legislation would mean the fund, established to put money from the New Hampshire Liquor Commission toward substance abuse treatment and prevention, would receive the originally intended rate of 5 percent of money from alcohol sales.
“Two governors have called substance abuse the biggest problem in this state,” Kahn said, noting Gov. Chris Sununu’s calls for putting more money into treatment and prevention. “I completely agree. This legislation provides an innovative solution to the real problems confronting the state.”
The fund was authorized in 2000, but previous governors and legislatures have always diverted the substance treatment money into the general fund, even as Liquor Commission revenue has skyrocketed.
Given the state’s dire opioid crisis, advocates said they hope 2017 is the year the fund will get its full allotment. Sununu, who is currently crafting his budget, has signaled support for fully funding it.
However, one Republican state senator is urging drug and alcohol funding to be discussed as part of the budget process.
“As is part of the normal process, the legislation introduced today would be best considered in the budget process when we have a clearer understanding of our state’s financial picture as a whole,” said Sen. Gary Daniels of Milford.
Sununu will deliver his budget address at noon on Thursday at the State House.