Alcohol, Drug Treatment Advocates Descend on Springfield Urging Lawmakers to Back 5¢ a Drink Tax, Reverse Quinn Addiction Healthcare Cuts

(Springfield, IL) – More than 100 Illinois drug and alcohol treatment and prevention advocates fanned out across the capitol on April 29 during IADDA’s Lobby Day to urge state lawmakers to increase the state’s alcohol tax by 5¢ a drink.

This move would raise $250 million for cash-strapped Illinois and restore $12.9 million cut from addiction healthcare services in Governor Pat Quinn‘s proposed FY 2010 budget.

“A nickel a drink increase will raise $250 million to help offset the budget deficit and restore budget cuts to addiction healthcare services,” said Sara Moscato Howe, CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA). And legislators got the message loud and clear.”

“We recognize Illinois faces tough economic problems, but in these times more people turn to drugs and alcohol and treatment must be available.”

“We are urging Speaker Michael Madigan, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno to raise revenue and to restore cuts made to treatment services by passing a nickel-a-drink alcohol tax increase,” said Howe.

Howe noted that alcohol and drug treatment advocates will keep the pressure on lawmakers by calling and writing their local senators and representatives.

“We’re not going to let up,” said Howe.

Lawmakers are in the final stretch of the General Assembly’s spring legislation which is scheduled to adjourn on May 31.

“5¢ a Drink” Alcohol Tax Pushed to Reverse Quinn Cuts to Drug, Alcohol Treatment; Help Plug Illinois Budget Hole

(Springfield, IL) – Illinois’ leading drug and alcohol treatment and prevention advocates today called on state lawmakers to increase the state’s alcohol tax by a 5¢ drink.

This move would raise $250 million for cash-strapped Illinois and restore $12.9 million cut from addiction healthcare services in Governor Pat Quinn‘s proposed FY 2010 budget.

IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe

IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe

“A nickel a drink increase will raise $250 million to help offset the budget deficit and restore budget cuts to addiction healthcare services,” said Sara Moscato Howe, (above) CEO of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA).

“We recognize Illinois faces tough economic problems, but in these times more people turn to drugs and alcohol and treatment must be available.”

“We are calling on Speaker Michael Madigan, House Minority Leader Tom Cross, Senate President John Cullerton, and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno to raise revenue and to restore cuts made to treatment services by passing a nickel-a-drink alcohol tax increase.”

Howe also noted alcohol abuse and drunk driving continue to exact a terrible, deadly toll on youth and children in communities throughout Illinois.

Recent media reports of drug and alcohol-related driving tragedies reinforce the need for adequately funding the state’s addiction healthcare system.

  • February 5 Edwardsville, IL“A wrong-way driver whose license was yanked several times for alcohol-related offenses caused the crash early today that killed two adults and a boy and left an 11-year-old girl hospitalized.”
  • February 17 Johnsburg, IL“Police are investigating who provided alcohol to a 17-year-old Johnsburg High School student who froze to death after a minor car accident last month.”
  • February 18 Elgin, IL“The blood-alcohol level of an Elgin teen who crashed into a house last fall, killing his passenger, was nearly three times the legal limit for driving, police said.”

Howe also noted an Illinois Department of Human Services study revealed that in 2006 nearly 40 percent of Illinois 12th graders had ridden in a car with a drunk or high teenager in the last year and 30 percent had the same experience with a drunk or high adult.

Lawmakers return to Springfield on April 21 to continue work on the state budget.

Advocates Urge Restoration of $55 Million for Drug, Alcohol Treatment Vetoed by Blagojevich

(Chicago, IL) – Advocates on July 14 appeared at a Chicago press conference to urge Governor Rod

Pastor Ray Mosby of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Robbins, Illinois, speaks to reporters

Pastor Ray Mosby of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Robbins, Illinois, speaks to reporters.

Blagojevich and the Illinois General Assembly to restore more than $55 million to the state budget for alcohol and drug abuse prevention and treatment programs.

The money was vetoed by the Governor last week.

“If the Governor’s budget cuts stand, the prevention and treatment system in Illinois will be crippled, throwing more than 42,000 people out of care,” stated Allen Sandusky, Board President of the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association (IADDA).

“The Governor and General Assembly must set-aside their differences and restore the funding,” said Sandusky.

Blagojevich cut $55 million from addiction treatment services and also line-item vetoed money from specific programs: victims of domestic violence, women returning from incarceration, youth treatment, youth in the court system, and women receiving federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families who require treatment to

IADDA Chairman Allen Sandusky addresses reporters.

IADDA Chairman Allen Sandusky addresses reporters.

be employed.

If the Governor’s cuts remain, the Illinois Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse will also lose $55 million in federal matching funds and witness its $253 million annual budget fall by $110 million, or 43%

“Cuts of this magnitude will expose Illinois hospital emergency rooms and local jails to the financial and human fallout of untreated addiction this year and years to come,” said Sandusky.

Currently, untreated addiction costs the State of Illinois $3 billion a year. Increases in health insurance rates, incarceration of non-violent drug offenders, domestic violence, on-the-job accidents, lost worker productivity, school drop-out rates, teen pregnancy, and traffic accidents and fatalities are all attributable to untreated addiction, says Sandusky.

Shannon, a nurse and pregnant mother, tells reporters that treatment has kept her drug free for 4 1/2 months and has saved her life.

Shannon, a nurse and pregnant mother, tells reporters that treatment has kept her drug free for 4 1/2 months and has saved her life.

Additionally, the loss of the Federal dollars will eliminate the state’s community-based prevention system, because it will lose more than 85 percent of its existing funding.

“Currently, our statewide substance abuse prevention system serves youth ages 12 to 17,” said Sandusky. “Without the Federal money, every community-based prevention provider will close.”

“We urge the General Assembly and the Governor to work together to resolve the budget challenges and restore full-funding to Illinois’ substance abuse treatment system,” said Sandusky.