State Reps. Sara Feigenholtz, Jim Watson Seek to Halt Gov. Quinn’s Move to Eliminate Illinois Substance Abuse Treatment Services

(Springfield, IL) – State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Jim Watson (R-Jacksonville) yesterday unveiled a bi-partisan Illinois House resolution, HR 106,  at a press conference in Springfield calling on Governor Pat Quinn to halt the elimination of all state funding for non-Medicaid drug and alcohol treatment services effective March 15.

“Governor Quinn’s proposed cuts would, essentially eliminate community-based treatment centers,” said Kent Holsopple, the Springfield area administrator for TASC, a Chicago-based drug counseling and assessment agency, who attended the press conference.

“TASC would have to lay off about 130 of its 360 workers statewide,” Holsopple stated.

Holsopple also noted that treatment centers in Central Illinois have been refusing to accept new TASC clients.

The mid-year budget cuts announced by Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Michelle Saddler last Friday would trigger the discharge of 55,000 treatment clients and the lay off of more than 5,000 workers.

“There is no question that we must make sacrifices as we address our budget problem,” said Watson. “However, it is important that these are shared sacrifices implemented in an equitable manner.”

“Completely eliminating addiction treatment is hardly equitable and if the lack of treatment opportunities resulting in higher rates of incarceration it could prove to be a more costly option,” stated Watson.

“The legislature recognizes that all state services must face funding reductions to put our fiscal house in order,” said Feigenholtz, Chair of the House Human Services Appropriations Committee. “Such budget cuts should be fair and balanced and thoughtfully considered, but Governor Quinn’s cuts to drug treatment fail to meet that criteria.”

In addition to the fiscal year 2011 mid-year budget cut, Quinn’s proposed fiscal year 2012 budget also eliminates $55 million or 80% of state funding from the Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse for prevention and treatment. That move will make the treatment reduction from 69,787 people this year to 13,957 next year, permanent.

As recently as fiscal year 2007, the state served 98,000 people. Quinn’s proposed budget also eliminates addiction prevention services for 229,536 youth.

Feigenholtz noted that these cuts will force Illinois residents with no access to addiction treatment services to turn to local hospitals, flooding emergency rooms, or to fall into the far more expensive criminal justice system.

“Our local law enforcement will bear the burden for those who need treatment but have nowhere to turn, landing in local jails or homeless or worse,” said Feigenholtz.

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