Letter: The Opioid Tax Folly Starts

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The state budget that was just passed included a tax on opioid drugs sold in New York. Don’t be fooled—the tax will be paid by the end user, which will increase the cost of prescription drugs. While this tax would only be palatable if 100 percent of it was going to be used to solve and pay for the opioid addiction rehabilitation, but it is not.

The governor is pulling the same slight of hand trick that the state did with the lottery and education. According to the budget, only 20 percent of the taxes raised, (which is estimated to be $20 million) will go directly to pay for treatment. The remaining opioid tax (about $80 million) goes directly to the state’s general fund. This means the opioid tax could be used for anything.

This is wrong and a bad policy. This money should only be used for rehabilitation, education or treatment programs. An even better use of the remaining money would be to use it to offset the additional costs of the Narcan drug and other expenses to combat and arrest illegal drug pushers.

If you think this is wrong and a bad policy, you need to call the governor’s office, your state senator and assembly person. You need to tell them you want 100 percent of the tax money used for opioid rehabilitation, education, treatment programs and to offset local policing costs to deal with the opioid crisis.

—Gary Slavin

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