New Hampshire’s alcohol fund, which takes a small portion of state liquor sale revenues and puts it towards substance abuse prevention and treatment, has only been fully funded once since it was created in 2000.
But one Keene lawmaker wants to change that.
Of the nearly dozen people during Tuesday's hearing who spoke in favor of Sen. Jay Kahn's bill, the message seemed to be: New Hampshire aggressively markets the sale of alcohol so it’s just common sense to cover the cost of addressing the consequences of alcoholism.
Kahn stressed to the Senate Finance Committee that if state officials are going to say that addressing the opioid crisis is the state's number one issue then lawmakers need to show that.
"Where we invest our money is a direct reflection of our priorities, and our priorities ought to be with the people in New Hampshire who need care,” Kahn testified Tuesday.
In the last state budget, the substance abuse fund was increased to 1.7 percent of state liquor sales, just one third of its intended target.
“We appreciate that the funding was increased two years ago but I think we went from trying to drain a lake with a thimble to trying to do it with a Dixie cup," said John Burns, who works in recovery and is in long-term recovery himself. "We are up against it still – we are starting to make progress but we are nowhere near where we need to me," he told lawmakers.
Last year more than 430 people in New Hampshire died from a drug overdose.