“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.