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Idaho Senate Slams Door on Governor's Drug-Treatment Funding Veto

Idaho Senate Slams Door on Governor's Drug-Treatment Funding Veto
© Photo: Leonard Pires
Governor Otter vetoed funding for drug-treatment, the State Senate vetoed Governor Otter.

Idaho Governor C.L. Otter vetoed $2.4 million in funding for community drug treatment programs – and the State Senate, gave that money back.

State senators voted to overturn the veto that State Senator Dean Cameron said would have meant the end of drug treatment for more than 3000 Idahoans in need. He says that the funding cut is shortsighted, and "If each one of those ended up in prison at $57 a day, that's $67 million.  So it is simply not cost effective not to move forward."

And the costs of incarceration are not measured in dollar amounts alone. Vern Garrett of Ascent Behavioral Services explains that incarceration rarely solves the problems those addicted to drugs face. He says that while clients are in community treatment, they, "have jobs, are still with their families, trying to get their lives in order, and that's not possible when they're serving time."

Travis Anderson is a man who has turned his life around, in part thanks to state subsidized drug treatment. He says he had been abusing drugs and alcohol from the age of 14, but is now clean and sober, working, paying taxes, going to church and going to meetings. He says that if funding cuts meant the end of his drug treatment, "The chances are against me that I would be back using drugs and stealing and doing the things I shouldn't be doing -- a downward spiral."

The funding has been restored for a single year only, and is currently set to expire at the end of 2009.

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