TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Governor Chris Christie is laying out the details of his new $200-million plan to fight New Jersey’s opioid epidemic.
The governor said his 25 new initiatives will be paid for out of existing state funds.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker explained, the new initiatives will involve spending major money.
The governor was introduced at Integrity House in Newark, as champion for individuals struggling with addiction.
On Tuesday, he said he wants to spend hundreds of millions to combat the opioid crisis in a new way.
“We always say we don’t have a treatment bed problem in New Jersey. We have a relapse problem in New Jersey. If we dealt with relapse problem we wouldn’t have bed problems like today,” he said.
With more programs and more dollars, the governor hopes to bridge gaps in the support system for those in recovery.
“We have to help the middle class, they don’t qualify for assistance, but don’t have money for treatment when insurance turns them away,” he said.
The plan includes $36-million for housing and support for addicts, and $35-million for opioid addicted mothers and their babies. Six percent of all babies in New Jersey are born addicted.
Another $21-million will help expand the recovery coach program for recent overdose survivors.
Christie plans to take the money from the budgets of other state departments, but no specific details were given.
“What I can tell you, we will make it clear no vital program cuts, and no tax increase to do this,” Christie said.
In January, Christie declared the heroin and opioid epidemic a public health emergency.
“Why are New Jersey tax payers having to foot up $200-million out of a starved cow of a state budget when federal money is available. He is the federal opioid czar, he just doesn’t have the nerve to go against Donald Trump,” political analyst Jim McQueeney said.
The president still has not declared it an emergency, despite 64,000 people who died of overdose in 2016.
“One of the things we fought for in the budget was the ability for governors to move money from any line item in the state budget to address a public health crisis,” Christie said.
With only 119 days left in office, the push could be Christie’s last big move, but will it define his legacy?
“This is a chance for Governor Christie to do a victory lap. A lap, pitiful with a 15 percent approval rating,” McQueeney said.
Christie said the funds will be distributed immediately to start programs before he leaves office in January.
The governor hopes New Jersey’s plan will become a national model. He chairs the opioid commission empaneled by President Donald Trump and expects its final report to be issued in the coming months.