Assemblymember Steck Comments on 2024 State Budget

As chair of the Assembly Committee on Drug Abuse and Alcoholism, I am adamant that we fund lifesaving prevention and treatment programs. We must support these vital programs and the dedicated workers behind them, to help ensure that New Yorkers suffering from substance use and addiction can receive the care they need to move forward on their path to recovery. Below are the positive aspects of the approved budget.

  • The state budget provides a 3.2% cost-of-living adjustment for human services staff, including support, direct care, clinical and non-executive administrative workers.
  • $1.2 million for 12 not for profit programs treating co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. The Assembly budget originally called for $5 million to be allocated in this effort. Although we fell short, this is a new funding stream. I’m pleased to see we are moving in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the State budget took a step back in funding vocational and job search services for persons in recovery. The Governor cut over $11 million in funding for this program.We were only able to restore $3 million. I am not sure where this cut leaves the program. The argument is that people in recovery can get these services from the Department of Labor (DOL). However, people in recovery need to get these services from the providers who are already assisting them in recovery. Sending them to another bureaucracy is ill-conceived. The DOL is an understaffed, unwieldy bureaucracy with no experience with this population.These cuts will exacerbate the difficulties people in recovery face in finding employment.

The Governor now has discretion over spending of the funds in both the Opioid Settlement Fund and the Opioid Stewardship Fund, with the result that disbursement of this funding to providers has slowed to a trickle. Many New Yorkers are calling for the Governor to declare an opioid emergency, which sounds great, but would give the Governor even more control over the disbursement of funds in this area. To ensure support does not get held up in bureaucracy, the Legislature should be able recapture how funds are spent so this assistance is more rapidly and productively distributed.