Gov Scott Wants $50M To Fight Opioid Abuse

Sep 26, 2017

Credit Nick Evans

Florida Governor Rick Scott will ask lawmakers for $50 million next year to fight opioid abuse.  But it’s not clear how much will go to treatment and how much to enforcement.

Governor Scott wants to limit opioid prescriptions to three days in most circumstances and require all physicians prescribing the drugs to use a state tracking system.  Scott also wants fifty million dollars in new funding.

“The funding will include substance abuse treatment counseling and recovery services to give vulnerable individuals the help they need in their own communities,” Scott says.  “I’ve never met anybody that intentionally became an addict and so we’re going to do everything we can to help them if that happens to them.”

That’s what drug abuse counselors called for during an August listening session hosted by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater).  That came after state lawmakers cut $11 million in mental health and substance abuse funding earlier this year.  Although the federal government sent $27 million in emergency funds, restrictions kept that money from covering expenses like treatment beds.  

Also earlier this year, the governor approved a new set of harsh penalties for opioid possession—including mandatory minimum sentences.  The governor hasn’t released his complete proposal, but it seems clear Scott is interested in stiffer enforcement.

“It also includes a major investment in the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council,” he says, “which supports our local law enforcement agencies as they investigate drug abuse and often again they’re the front line in this.”

The 14 member council is largely made up of the governor’s appointees and it can funnel dollars to local law enforcement agencies to assist in violent crime or drug investigations.  Scott requested $4 million for the panel ahead of this year’s session.  But since 2008, lawmakers have only authorized funding for victim and witness protection.