Tester Rings the Alarm on Plan to Gut Substance Abuse Office
White House Proposes 95 Percent Cut to Efforts that Combat Drug Abuse in 5 Montana Counties
(U.S. Senate) - U.S. Senator Jon Tester today raised serious concerns about the White House's plan to gut the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which has been instrumental in combatting meth and opioid addiction in Montana.
Tester-a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which crafts the budget-called on the Administration to reverse course on a proposal that would cut funding for the Office of National Drug Control Policy by a whopping 95 percent.
"I have seen firsthand the widespread effect that opioid addiction and meth abuse continue to have on families in my state," Tester wrote. "This proposal would be a significant step backwards in our fight against drug abuse and the devastation it has had on communities across rural states like Montana."
Tester highlighted the importance of this funding for Montana, which is home to five High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) regional task forces operating in Cascade, Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Missoula and Yellowstone Counties. These task forces are a joint effort between local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies to combat the drug epidemic in Montana communities.
The Administration is proposing to eliminate the funding for the HIDTA grant program. Each year, the Montana regional task forces receive almost $1 million in these grants.
"As a sitting member of both Montana's and Rocky Mountain HIDTA's Executive Board, I have seen first-hand major successes in efforts to combat illegal drug activity. Although we have accomplished much, there is more to do," said Rich St. John, Billings Police Chief. "Closer to home, virtually all crime, whether it is a crime against a person or property, is driven by drugs and commensurate illegal activity. Specifically, Methamphetamine. It continues to be a common denominator in homicides, assaults, and robberies. The situation is even more dire in Indian Country. Sustained funding through HIDTA is vital in our effort to disrupt and dismantle drug traffic organizations. Loss of HIDTA funds would severely hinder investigations and result in local agencies doing work only in their jurisdiction. In his travels around the state, Senator Tester has seen the devastation caused by illegal drugs and has worked tirelessly to find solutions and support law enforcement."
Last month, Tester invited the Trump Administration to work with him to come up with solutions to address the rising meth problems across Montana.
Tester's letter to the President can be found HERE.