Bush Wants More Money To Help Addicts

Bush Wants More Money To Help Addicts
Posted by FoM on January 11, 2000 at 23:59:15 PT
By Michael Griffin, Sentinel Political Editor 
Source: Orlando Sentinel
Gov. Jeb Bush wants to drop the big one in Florida's War on Drugs -- a $35-million increase in the state budget aimed at attacking dealers and treating addicts.Bush said Tuesday he will ask the Legislature to approve $422.3 million in next year's budget to control illegal drugs. That's an 8.4-percent increase over the amount Florida spent this year.The new money would go toward beefing up drug-fighting law enforcement units, but the largest portion of the increase would go to substance abuse treatment programs, Bush said Tuesday during a visit to Orlando.
"The days of high substance abuse rates in Florida are numbered," Bush said. "The increased funding for treatment and law enforcement efforts in this budget will go a long way toward meeting our goal of cutting drug use in half by 2004."That goal was set last September when Bush unveiled his Florida Drug Control Strategy. Since then, drug deaths have continued to climb.The Legislature will review Bush's budget proposal during the session that begins in March. Lawmakers in the state House and Senate will come up with their own spending plans and the result likely will be a compromise between the three versions.Fighting drugs, though, is expected to be a high priority.Heroin deaths in the Orlando area were expected to set a record in 1999, surpassing 50 in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Brevard and Lake counties. The bulk of those deaths occurred in Orange and Osceola counties, which will likely see an increase in heroin deaths from the 36 users who overdosed here in 1998. That year, the Orlando area had the highest rate of heroin deaths and the third-highest rate of cocaine deaths in Florida.Statewide, about 1.2 million Floridians are estimated to be drug users, about 8 percent of the state population. That tops the 6.2 percent of the national population considered to be regular drug users. More than half of the cocaine seized by U.S. Customs officials is captured in Florida.Bush's budget targets treatment first, aiming to lower the demand for illegal drugs. He is calling for an additional $28.9 million for local treatment centers and programs for juvenile offenders and state prison inmates.The budget also would increase spending for court programs, which compel nonviolent defendants to seek treatment to avoid jail terms."Treatment represents the most immediate of our drug control needs in Florida," said Jim McDonough, director of Bush's Office of Drug Control Policy."Bush was in Orlando Tuesday to attend a town meeting on combating drug abuse.Here are the details of the governor's plan. The percentages note the increase over the current fiscal year budget:Substance Abuse Intervention and Treatment: $12.9 million or an 8.2-percent increase over the current budget year. The plan also includes more money for the Department of Children & Families to expand intervention and treatment services to chronic substance abusers.Substance Abuse Treatment in State Prisons: $4.4 million. The Department of Corrections would use the increased funding for 900 additional in-prison residential treatment slots required to meet the projected growth in the prison population.Substance Abuse Treatment For Juveniles: $11.6 million or a 415-percent increase. Federal funding of $4.7 million and $6.9 million in state money would allow the Department of Juvenile Justice to serve an additional 1,874 juveniles with residential substance-abuse and mental health treatment.Agriculture Inspection Station: $2.2 million. This new money would pay for an inspection station on Interstate 10 at the Florida-Alabama line. It would allow the Department of Agriculture to detect illegal drugs, as well as plant and animal diseases.Criminal Investigations: $2.1 million, or 23.4 percent more. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement's drug and money laundering investigations would get a boost from this budget increase.Drug Interdiction Equipment and Support Pay: $400,000 and $200,000 for a combined 12-percent increase. An additional $400,000 would allow the Florida National Guard to buy equipment for its drug interdiction efforts, while an increase of $200,000 would pay for the Guard's counter-drug operations and training to help local law enforcement and community organizations.Drug Courts: $1.1 million or 115 percent. This increase would provide new court administrators and staff for the state's 17 drug court programs and would provide a drug court coordinator for areas that do not have programs.Published in The Orlando Sentinel on January 12, 2000 .  2000 orlandosentinel.comRelated Articles:Support for Marijuana Research at MSU Dries Up - 10/25/99 Unveils $540 Million Drug Plan -9/11/99 Eating Fungus Seen as Potent Weapon - 7/27/99
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