Gov. Murphy proposes $100M to fight opioid crisis

Posted: Updated:

Gov. Phil Murphy says he's proposing $100 million in new spending to address the state's opioid crisis.

The governor outlined the proposal at a news conference Tuesday at the Rescue Mission of Trenton.

“This isn’t someone else’s problem. This is our problem, it’s a New Jersey problem,” Murphy said. “We all must come together to rebuild lives and communities.”

Murphy said that he is committed to finding new solutions to the opioid crisis and that he hopes to see patients receive more prescriptions for the state’s expanded medical marijuana program instead of for opioid painkillers.

Rescue Mission client Charles Sprague says that he traces his drug addiction to when he had a tooth pulled and was prescribed painkillers at 13 years old.

“It’s a vicious cycle that sometimes you don’t know if there is an end,” he says.  “It’s usually jails, institutions or death.”

Murphy’s plan would allot $56 million to fund outpatient and medication assisted treatment programs, and $30 million to support housing and employment programs. The proposal contrasts with former Gov. Chris Christie's pledge last year to spend roughly $200 million on the crisis. But Murphy says only about $90 million of those funds have been spent.

Murphy also says not to expect the money to be spent on television advertising. Christie had appeared in TV and radio spots last year inviting people with substance-abuse problems to seek help.

The state says that drug deaths surged in New Jersey with 2,200 overdose deaths reported between 2016 and 2017. Rescue Mission CEO Mary Gay Abbot-Young says that her staff has administered lifesaving Narcan in 19 overdoses cases since July.

The proposal comes as Murphy's $37.4 billion budget begins moving through the Democrat-led Legislature. A new budget must be in place by June 30.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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