Governor Maggie Hassan and Senator Jeanne Shaheen gathered with law enforcement officials in Laconia Monday to push for more funding for substance abuse treatment and prevention. The group says politics is standing in the way of progress in confronting the city’s heroin epidemic.
Jim Carroll, a judge in Laconia’s circuit court, was part of a local coalition that set up a drug court two years ago, which puts addicts into a treatment program instead of prison. But Carroll squeezes the sentencing for this program into his lunch-hour, and he says it needs state funding. That funding is currently caught up in the budget stalemate between Governor Hassan and Statehouse Republicans.
He says he told the organizations that partnered with him in putting the court together that it would be like Field of Dreams: ‘If you build, it they will come.’ Which is to say, once the state sees how well the drug court works, they will help fund it.
“And we have [built it], and it’s worked, and there are people out there thriving, sober, productive,” said Carroll during a press conference. “And personally, I take it as an insult that people are acting like it’s not worth the effort.”
For her part, Hassan used the event to say the single most important step for helping addicts is to pass a bill that extends expanded Medicaid, which covers some substance abuse treatment. She also pointed to an additional $5.7 million that was in the budget compromise she proposed recently, over and above what was presented in the budget approved by the Legislature.