CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. (KOIN) — Gov. Kate Brown’s newly unveiled budget includes a proposal to delay a key component of Oregon’s newly passed drug decriminalization measure: funding for treatment.
Measure 110 depenalizes possession of user-amounts of all drugs, reducing the punishment to a maximum $100 fine that can be waived if the violator completes a health assessment. The first-of-its-kind measure also requires a huge portion of the state’s marijuana tax revenue to be reallocated to help fund addiction treatment centers, a provision some experts believe made the measure more appealing to voters than just decriminalization.
“You need to both decriminalize, which also helps reduce the stigma, and have the services ready,” said Tera Hurst, executive director of Oregon Health Justice and Recovery Alliance, a group of Measure 110 supporters who are guiding its rollout.
The governor’s budget invests $112.6 million to implement Measure 110, a number far larger than the minimum $57 million a year in funding the text of the measure called for. However, Brown proposes delaying the financial portions of the measure until July 1, 2022.
“We are in a crisis and we need to be responding immediately and not waiting for 18 months,” Hurst said.
Measure 110 has a specific implementation timeline: Drugs become decriminalized Feb. 1, 2021 and a 24-hour phone line to connect people with services is supposed to be activated the same day. In October 2021, physical treatment and resource referral centers are supposed to receive funding.
The governor’s proposal puts all of that in jeopardy, Hurst said.
“These dates were in there, the voters agreed and said that this was the right timeline and so it really is up to the legislature to uphold voter intent and what the statute says,” she said.
Lawmakers will consider the budget when they convene in January.
Governor Brown’s Deputy Communications Director Charles Boyle sent KOIN 6 News a statement reading in part:
“The Oregon Health Authority is already taking steps to implement Ballot Measure 110 and the Governor looks forward to working with advocates to establish a timeline that works for everyone for implementation. In the Governor’s budget we have found ways to fill the funding gaps created for schools, public safety, and existing health services in the second year of the biennium. It wasn’t possible to fill those funding gaps immediately while still maintaining critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor is committed to a collaborative approach to transition from the system we have today, which we know is not doing enough for Oregonians, to the system the voters supported.”
When she announced the fiscal plan Tuesday, Brown called it a “budget built on sacrifice and hard choices” that doesn’t put enough money into things like schools and public health.
The proposed 2021-23 budget totals $100.2 billion in spending, including $25.6 billion from the general fund and lottery funds, the state’s most flexible revenue streams. Both figures are an increase from the current biennium, in which general fund and lottery expenditures are estimated at $23.4 billion.
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, racial equity, wildfire recovery, and housing are among the items prioritized.
The governor’s budget does allocate $5.6 to start implementing Oregon’s other new drug law, which legalizes the use of psilocybin for therapeutic purposes in a licensed facility.