TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would urge the Commissioner of Human Services to ensure that allotments that counties get for alcohol education, rehabilitation and enforcement reflect current needs was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today by a vote of 6-0.
“New Jersey’s plan to fund county alcohol treatment and education programs is woefully out of date, and we need an overhaul to ensure that State dollars are going where they are needed most,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer, the Vice Chair of the Senate Health Committee. “The estimates we’re using right now to calculate how we fund each counties’ programs date back to the 1970’s, and it’s impossible to believe that trends in alcohol abuse haven’t shifted in thirty years. We need to look at the current data to make sure that counties are getting their fair share.”
The resolution, SR-74, urges the State Commissioner of Human Services to look at allotments from the Alcohol Education, Rehabilitation and Enforcement Fund (AEREF), as well as current data on estimates in alcoholism, to update the State’s Behavioral Health Services Plan to make sure counties are compensated according to need. The current Behavioral Health Services Plan, published in 1982, relies on estimates for the prevalence in alcoholism from 1977, and Senator Karcher has argued that the landscape of alcohol dependency has changed quite a bit in 30 years.
“Thirty years ago, Monmouth County was not the sprawling suburb it is today, and with changing populations come changing problems,” said Senator Karcher. “We cannot rely on outdated data to address the current needs of the State, especially when the State has seen so much growth in certain areas over the last three decades. In fairness, we need to take a hard look at current estimates and trends to most effectively meet the alcohol treatment needs of New Jersey as a whole.”
The resolution now heads to the full Senate for consideration.