Opioid Commission Has Funding Recommendation for Oklahoma Lawmakers

Jan 11, 2018

Credit drug free.org

The Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse is still fleshing out its full set of recommendations for state lawmakers, but one thing is clear: Many of their ideas will require funding.

Rep. Tim Downing proposed Thursday a 10 percent tax on opioid sales, which the commission will include in its final recommendations.

"The hope is that this would be something that manufacturers would bear the burden of. That money is going to be designated to go to mental health and treatment efforts specific for opioid addiction and dependency," Downing said.

Attorney General Mike Hunter said it's the commission's responsibility to give lawmakers a constitutional funding idea.

"Because the vision of [State Question] 781, you know, liberating corrections funding for programs is not going to materialize for years and years, in my opinion," Hunter said.

SQ781 was part of a two-pronged initiative to tackle drug addiction in Oklahoma. It said corrections funding saved as a result of SQ780, which reclassified many drug offenses as misdemeanors, would be directed to local treatment programs.

Downing is hopeful lawmakers would pass such a measure with the necessary three-fourths majority. Commission member Dr. Kevin Taubman said the link between the opioid tax and treatment programs needs to be clearer than the one between proposed cigarette taxes and health programs was.

"Despite the fact nobody likes to pay taxes, understandably, the reality is we've got to fund these initiatives for the health and well-being of people," Taubman said.

There's no fiscal impact evaluation yet for Downing's proposal, so it's unknown how much money it could bring in.