Bill reduces state share of alcohol treatment grants

Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) Some alcohol and drug treatment and prevention programs would lose part of their state funding under a bill that passed the House on Tuesday.

The bill requires the programs to come up with a 25 percent match to receive state grants, up from 10 percent.

The Murkowski administration proposed the change, which it says would save the state $1.6 million a year.

Democrats argued against the bill, saying Alaska cannot afford to do less to combat one of the state's most serious social problems.

Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, said Alaska has the highest mortality rate from alcohol in the nation and the highest rate of fetal alcohol syndrome.

There's not enough treatment in this state, just not enough,'' Gara said.

Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, said the bill does not necessarily reduce treatment capacity. It seeks a larger contribution from programs that have more capacity for raising funds locally, but spares many programs from the 25 percent requirement, he said.

Administration officials have said programs providing treatment for young people or women with children would not have to pay more. They also said programs receiving grants of less than $30,000 would not have to pay more.

Rep. Sharon Cissna, D-Anchorage, tried Monday to amend the bill to phase in the higher local match requirement but her amendments failed.

Senate Bill 124 passed the House 27-8, with members of the minority Democrat caucus voting against it.

The bill already has passed the Senate and will go to the governor for his signature.

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