Letter: Follow the opioid money

Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Follow the opioid money

Recent Monitor articles have pointed out that funding to fight New Hampshire’s opioid epidemic falls short of need. One reporter, again noting that federal funds are distributed based on population, not overdose rates, reached out to senators from states receiving the bulk of that funding to see if they would consider changing the distribution formula. Unsurprisingly, none responded.

So what accounts for this lack of empathy? Well, maybe they caught our governor’s interview this summer on the PBS Newshour, where in explaining why he opposed his party’s attempt to eliminate expanded Medicaid, he said this: “We have no sales tax, we have no income tax. We don’t have the taxes to raise, nor would we ever want to, like other states do.”

In other words, the opioid epidemic is only a problem for New Hampshire if someone else will pick up the tab. Which is exactly what Sen. Dan Feltes pointed out while advocating for using a portion of the state’s rainy day fund to address this issue. Not only is state spending on the opioid epidemic dwarfed by the tax cuts passed in the governor’s budget, it’s on pace to be less than it was in Gov. Hassan’s last budget.

Interviews and op-ed pieces are all well and good, but if you want to see someone’s real priorities, follow the money. Until New Hampshire is willing to put its money where the governor’s mouth is, our state shouldn’t expect the rest of the country to bail us out of this.