February 10, 1995 in Idaho

Chemical Abuse Agency Tries To Evade Budget Ax Commission Seeks To Be Reinstated In State Budget

Associated Press

Officials from the Idaho Commission on Alcohol-Drug Abuse made an impassioned plea to legislative budget-writers Thursday to override Republican Gov. Phil Batt’s decision to terminate the agency.

Chairman Gil Gilbertson of Boise told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee that the new administration determined the commission duplicates work being done by employees in other state agencies.

But, Gilbertson declared, “We do not accept that. Rather than being duplicative, those employees tell us the work of the commission helps them coordinate efforts and avoid duplication.”

He emphasized that those workers in other agencies were told they could not appear before the committee on behalf of the commission, which has a budget this year of $114,000.

It is one of two state agencies Batt targeted for elimination in his tight-fisted 1996 general tax budget. The other, the $96,000-a-year Council for the Deaf and Hearing Impaired, made its pitch for survival a week ago.

At the same time, however, the administration proposed continuing the state’s $69,000 contribution to epilepsy services provided by the Epilepsy League in what is essentially the only direct taxpayer donation to a private charity. Also retained were small agencies such as the Commission on Women’s Programs, which has been a repeated target of legislative attacks in the past.

Former Democratic state Sen. Michael Black, who has headed the Alcohol-Drug Abuse Commission for the past six years, detailed the agency’s achievements, including professional training and an effective television advertising campaign to combat teen drinking and drug use.

In a bid to win over more conservative lawmakers, Black outlined a proposed 1996 budget that would keep the commission operating but with a budget more than $22,000 less than this year’s.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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