Gainey supports state budget as a start to addressing opioid crisis

HARRISBURG, June 30 – State Rep. Ed Gainey said he voted for the 2016-17 state budget because it begins to address the opioid addiction crisis devastating families across Pennsylvania and it starts to fund the new medical marijuana program.

"This isn’t a perfect spending plan, but compromise is important when negotiating something that affects 12 million Pennsylvanians," said Gainey, D-Allegheny.

The budget allocates $15 million to the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Department of Health to combat heroin and opioid addiction, including funds for emergency addiction treatment and behavioral health services.

"That’s not enough money, but it’s a start. Hopefully the special session on opioid addiction that we will engage in the fall will help everyone to fully understand the dire need for more money in the next budget so that we as a state can take a responsible approach to helping people move from addiction to recovery. It’s crucial for so many families who are losing loved ones on a daily basis," said Gainey, who serves as co-chairman of the bipartisan PA Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education Caucus.

Gainey said the PA-HOPE Caucus is a group of legislators from the House and Senate who are committed to helping people receive high-quality prevention and treatment of drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse so they can recover and lead productive lives.

The budget also provides $3 million to the Department of Health to get the state’s new medical marijuana program, established through Act 16 of 2016, up and running. The department recently announced temporary guidelines for the "safe harbor" provision that allows parents and caregivers to obtain medical marijuana to administer to a minor who has a documented serious medical condition.

"Parents and patient advocates fought very hard for the last few years to get the medical marijuana law enacted and this money is the first step in helping them to get the relief they so desperately need for their diseases and other debilitating health conditions," Gainey said.

Gainey said the $250 million statewide increase in pre-K through 12 education funding includes 2 percent for basic education and 0.9 percent for special education to the Pittsburgh School District, while also providing 2 percent for basic education and 2.2 percent for special education funding to the Wilkinsburg School District.