OUR VIEW: Governor Quinn Should Sign Budget with Restored Funding for Addiction Treatment

TASC appreciates the General Assembly’s work in restoring FY12 funding for addiction treatment and case management. These funds originally had been eliminated in Governor Quinn’s proposed FY12 budget.

Thanks to the House sponsorship of Speaker Michael Madigan and Representative Sara Feigenholtz, along with the Senate Sponsorship of Heather Steans, House Bill 3717 appropriates funding for community-based addiction treatment with only a 1 percent cut from current-year funding. This represents a major victory for sound fiscal and public policy. It also slows a three-year trend of steady funding cuts to the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (DASA). 

State budget cuts have resulted in diminished access to addiction treatment for those who seek it—even as new designer drugs emerge and prescription drug abuse is on the rise. DASA’s funding for TASC services has decreased 27 percent in the past three years. We have absorbed these budget cuts through layoffs and service reductions, and we have made further adjustments to maximize the efficiency of our services and the leanness of our infrastructure.

Enough is enough. 

The legislature agrees.

TASC’s statewide services for courts and probation are mandated by law and funded through DASA. Through clinical case management, we place clients into community-based treatment programs, monitor their progress, support their recovery, and make reports to the courts. This balance of opportunity and accountability works: defendants who are sent to TASC are twice as successful in treatment as other criminal justice-referred clients in Illinois. Through TASC’s work, people enter recovery, obtain employment, and reunify with their families.

Illinois taxpayers spend $25,000 to incarcerate a nonviolent, drug-using offender for a year, whereas the cost of community-based drug treatment, combined with TASC supervision, is less than $5,000. Each person sent to TASC and treatment instead of prison saves taxpayers $20,000. When it costs taxpayers five times more to incarcerate a nonviolent offender than it does to treat his or her addiction, the choice is easy.

The decision of the Illinois legislature to restore funds to treatment and case management is not only a sound fiscal decision, but a solid public safety decision as well. For clients mandated to TASC as an alternative to incarceration, arrests for both drug crimes and property crimes were reduced by 71 percent compared to before they came to TASC.

We thank the members of the Illinois House and Senate for restoring these critical funds to save taxpayer dollars and make our communities safer. We urge the Governor to follow suit.

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