A few months ago I wrote an editorial around the idea, “We can’t afford the government we want.” Each time I hear about the grim cuts being made to balance budgets, I sadly become more convinced that this idea is true.
DuPage County Board member Michael F. McMahon, R-3rd District, of Hinsdale recently urged Gov. Rod Blagojevich and state legislators to restore funding to the Illinois Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. An article on the Web site for DuPage County says that “DASA has implemented a reduced budget for Fiscal Year 2009 (July 1, 2008 – June 30, 2009) that is 43 percent lower that the Fiscal Year 2008 budget.”
McMahon, who chairs the County Board’s Judicial and Public Safety Committee, said the cuts would “decimate the statewide substance abuse treatment system.”
“The budget cut to DASA represents an initial $55 million loss in funding for critical, and often court-mandated, services,” the online article reports. “Additionally, this budget reduction will result in another $55 million loss of Federal matching funds, which brings the total reduction to $110 million.”
“The cuts in this important program have already resulted in substantial reductions in, and in some cases the termination of, services provided by agencies that serve DuPage County, including Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, Serenity House and Breaking Free, which provides services to some of the most vulnerable residents of our County,” McMahon said in the article. “I implore the governor and the legislature to do what is right and restore funding for these critical services. … Chemical dependence and substance abuse causes more deaths, illnesses and disabilities than any other preventable health condition in America.
The ability to fight these afflictions is greatly reduced with DASA, and I hope a restoration of funding can be accomplished at the earliest possible date.”
It’s hard to dispute that funding in this area is vital to the government’s efforts to combat substance abuse. But there’s no denying that the state is strapped for cash and can’t expect taxpayers to eagerly open their wallets when they are hurting as well.
Something in this unsteady economy is eventually going to break, and the consequences won’t be pretty.