Jul 10, 2015 1:31 PM
State GOP criticizes Hassan for ignorance about grant to combat substance abuse in NH
CONCORD - State GOP leaders are coming down hard on Gov. Maggie Hassan for not being aware that the state is due to receive a federal grant to combat substance abuse -- and getting push back from the Democrats, who say Republicans' state budget jeopardizes access to substance abuse treatment.
"At a time when law enforcement officials are asking for more resources to address our heroin crisis, our state needs a full-time governor who is focused on this serious problem. Gov. Hassan's embarrassing admission that she didn't know about an important federal grant to combat substance abuse shows she is becoming increasingly detached from her official duties as she plots a campaign for United States Senate," said N.H. GOP Chairman Jennifer Horn in a statement.
But Hassan's spokesman William Hinkle says the $12 million federal grant is a continuation of one previously received by the state and is not due to arrive until October, when it will have to be approved by the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee, "which is why the (health and human services) department did not flag it for the governor earlier," he said.
The Department of Health and Human Services confirmed the money is a continuation of grant funding from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse among youth and young adults.
"The grant was initially awarded to DHHS in 2012, and the additional funding will be used to continue the Department's work supported by the original funding. The funding for the continuation grant will be effective in October 2015," said Jake Leon, spokesman for the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.
The state Democratic party responded with a statement of their own, condemning Republicans for making this a political issue.
"Combatting our state's heroin epidemic should not be a partisan issue, and it is extremely troubling that state Republicans are trying to make it one with baseless attacks," said state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley.
He accused Republicans of trying to distract voters from their failure to support the state's Medicaid expansion program, causing substance abuse treatment providers to put plans for expanded services on hold.