CONCORD- Today, the New Hampshire Senate Democratic Caucus announced legislation called the RESCUE (Responding Effectively to a Severe Crisis Using Emergency funds) Act, aimed at aggressively ramping up the fight on opioids in the state. The bill would allow the governor or legislature to dedicate 10% of the Rainy Day Fund, approximately $10 million in additional resources, to combat the opioid crisis.
The RESCUE Act permits the governor or legislature to declare an in-state Public Health Emergency and allocate 10% to fund action around the declaration. If passed, RESCUE would provide more-than-triple the investment in the opioid fight as compared to the revenue the state receives from the alcohol fund. The bill would more than make up for the Republican governor & legislature’s failure to fully fund the alcohol fund.
“If ever there was a rainy day in New Hampshire, this opioid crisis is it. Rather than wait around for the Trump administration to take much needed action, Granite Staters deserve leaders who will step up and tackle this crisis once and for all,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn. “If Governor Sununu and the Republican legislature aren’t willing to act by fully funding the alcohol fund or urging President Trump to change the funding formula to better serve New Hampshire, then it’s up to Democrats to act, and act we will.”
“This bill requires no new taxes or revenue, re-allocates no money away from other much needed state services, and provides more-than-triple our current alcohol fund investment to tackle this crisis,” said Senate Deputy Democratic Leader Donna Soucy. “I’ve seen first hand how the opioid crisis can devastate a family and a community. New Hampshire is tired of their government paying lip service to the fight only to see them support gutting the alcohol fund and creating uncertainty about the continuation of Medicaid Expansion as substance use disorder centers close. It’s high time we give communities the resources to confront this problem.”
While President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national Public Health Emergency, the corresponding funds only amount to $57,000 and Trump has yet to request additional money. Meanwhile, the Republican state budget failed to fully fund the alcohol fund. Governor Sununu has stated supported for Trump’s budget, which cuts opioid funds. Sununu also backs Medicaid block grants, which would cut the program’s funding in New Hampshire, and supported multiple versions of Trumpcare, which promised to gut Medicaid and end Medicaid expansion, which over 50,000 Granite Staters depend on.
Earlier this year, Senate Democrats in the Ohio legislature introduced a similar bill, SB 154, to dedicate 10% of the state’s Rainy Day fund to tackle the opioid crisis.
A copy of the Senate Democrats’ draft legislation, LSR 2957, is attached to this release.