Senate budget devotes most of opioid settlement to health services

Funds will be set up for service centers, overdose treatment and efforts to take fentanyl off the streets.

The Senate plans to establish trust funds in multiple budget silos using a $200 million settlement with opioid manufacturers.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to establish funds intended to deal with a drug abuse epidemic.

“What we are doing is really we put together a whole opioid plan to address this holistically across the various agencies and entities to truly get down to some of the root causes,” said Sen. Gayle Harrell, a Stuart Republican chairing the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee.

The projects include a $67.5 million fund within the Department of Children and Families to provide services associated with opioids.

Harrell said money will go to a statewide office addressing opioid recovery. Harrell said she has worked with Palm Beach County on a program that will cost $15.7 million.

Harrell added that an online bed system will cost $4.4 million.

The budget now also calls for $5 million to fund a media campaign discouraging the use of opioids.

Direct recovery efforts will absorb $40.2 million, Harrell said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health will see extended funding as well, much of which will address overdoses.

Harrell wants to dedicate $8 million budgeted for naloxone, a treatment for use in overdose situations, at Florida’s colleges and universities. She’d like another $13 million to make the drug more widely available to first responders around Florida. And $8 million is now in the Senate budget for Health Departments to receive the drug.

Another $4 million is budgeted for the Agency for Healthcare Administration to better train medical professionals for dealing with opioid patients.

She also proposed $45 million in local funding initiatives addressing the crisis.

Outside the health silo, Senators also plan to direct $25.7 million through the criminal justice system.

Sen. Jennifer Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican chairing the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee, filed a budget amendment to spend $3 million on additional beds in prisons and community-based care centers using opioid settlement dollars.

She also said the Senate will follow a recommendation from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget to spend $20 million on a fentanyl eradication grant program.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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