A Department of Health report released last week shows that, under Governor Kasich, heroin deaths increased 59.6% between 2011 and 2012 in Ohio. While Governor Kasich has claimed that addressing Ohio’s heroin problem will now be a major priority of his administration, his policies over the last three years led to cuts in law enforcement and social services.
Despite the fact that experts at the Ohio Department of Health said the heroin crisis was foreseeable, Kasich’s cuts to the local government fund took cops off the street and made access to social and mental health services more difficult for potential addicts.
Here are the facts:
Heroin Overdose Deaths Increased 59.6% Under Kasich’s Leadership: “Overdose deaths related to heroin increased 59.6 percent between 2011 and 2012 — the largest increase of any drug, according to Ohio Department of Health numbers.” [Mansfield News Journal, 4/18/2014]
Heroin Crisis Was Foreseeable, Health Department Officials Say: “‘As strict legislation closed pill mills and prescription drugs became less available, Ohio was left with an opioid-addicted population in search of a drug,’ [Christy Beeghly,violence and injury prevention program administrator at the Ohio Department of Health] said. ‘We’ve sort of primed the pump of bringing heroin in,’ she said.” [Mansfield News Journal, 4/18/2014]
Funding for Social Workers, Mental Health Programs, and Other Human Services Slashed over 50 percent Across the State on Average: “Deep cuts have been made to all local governments and to special districts. Health and human service levies were hit especially hard, losing 54 percent of state aid, on average.” [Policy Matters Ohio, 9/13/2012]
Kasich Eliminated Separate Departments Of Mental-Health And Substance-Abuse, and Combined Into One Agency: “Two state departments serving Ohioans with mental-health and substance-abuse problems will be merged into a single, more-efficient agency with ‘less bureaucratic clutter,’ the Kasich administration announced yesterday. The Ohio Department of Mental Health and the Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services will be combined effective July 1, 2013, pending legislative approval.” [The Columbus Dispatch, 5/5/12]
Kasich Holds Back Funds that Could Have Retained Police Officers: “Kasich insists that the state’s rainy day fund should be replenished with new budget surpluses, despite the fact that schools and communities across Ohio are still suffering from state budget cuts, which resulted in “cutbacks in essential local services, hikes in local property taxes, and layoffs of teachers, police officers, and firefighters.” [Toledo Blade, 4/29/2012]
SB5 Would Have Cut 34,000 Public Safety Jobs & Increased Crime Rates: “The inability to bargain in any meaningful way could affect public safety in Ohio in a myriad of ways, McDonald [president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Ohio] said. According to McDonald, if Senate Bill 5 is not repealed, about 51,000 public employees across the state could lose their jobs. He estimates that about two-thirds of those will be public safety employees. Less police on the beat could mean increased crime rates while fewer firefighters in stations across the state could add to response times in emergencies.’” [The Washington Independent, 9/28/2011]