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Eye On Boise

Millennium Fund panel divided over tobacco-prevention funding for next year

The Joint Millenium Fund Committee presented its funding recommendations to JFAC this morning, detailing how it’s voted to spend next year’s distributions from earnings on the trust fund Idaho created with its proceeds from a national tobacco settlement. The fund has $10.7 million available to distribute next year, but Gov. Butch Otter recommended distributing just $6.34 million in grants, with the biggest recipient the Department of Correction’s community-based substance abuse treatment services, at $1.9 million; followed by the Department of Health & Welfare’s “Project Filter” smoking cessation services at $2 million. The committee’s recommendation came in just under the governor’s, at $6.31 million. It recommended the remaining funds revert to the corpus of the trust fund.

The committee’s plan would give the same amount the governor recommended to Corrections for the community drug treatment, while reallocating the Project Filter funds, to give $1.5 million to tobacco cessation, and $500,000 to the project’s anti-tobacco counter-marketing campaign. H&W had requested $1 million for counter-marketing, but the governor hadn’t recommended any funding.

The only other change from the governor’s recommendation in the committee’s list is that it rejected $30,000 the governor had allocated to Health & Welfare for a cancer data registry. Both recommendations include $270,000 from the Millenium Fund next year for the Idaho Meth Project; both rejected a group of other grant applications, including a $2 million one from the American Lung Association and other groups for an anti-tobacco program.

A minority report from the 10-member committee’s four Democratic members noted that the panel’s final meeting was held when two of them couldn’t attend, and decried the decision to return $4 million in available grant funds to the permanent trust. “This is counter to the intent of the Tobacco Master Settlement,” the Democrats wrote. “The purpose of the settlement was to prevent the use of tobacco, to fund cessation activities, and to mitigate the cost of tobacco related illnesses to the states.” They called for more funding for preventive programs. The final decisions are up to JFAC as it sets agency budgets that plug in the amounts from the fund.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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