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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

State budget cuts eliminate largest youth drug and risk survey

Idaho has made much of a startling statistic - that teen meth use in the state dropped 52 percent from 2007 to 2009, the largest percentage drop of any state, just as the Idaho Meth Project was ramping up its graphic anti-meth TV ads and billboards. But that percentage was boosted by a small increase from 2005 to 2007; 11 states actually saw greater declines from 2005 to 2009, according to the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey. A separate, similar survey with a much larger sample size shows smaller, steadier drops in teen meth use in Idaho - similar to drops seen for the past decade nationwide.

That second survey, the Idaho School Climate Survey, has been conducted every other year since 1996, and it would have been administered to 15,000-plus Idaho teens again next month - except that state budget cuts have eliminated the funding. "It's a huge blow," said Matt McCarter, safe and drug-free schools coordinator for the Idaho State Department of Education. "We'll lose the trend data. ... It's going to be a huge impact, because we'll have less data to be able to inform programs, policy and funding." He added, "It's a blow to the program, but they're impossible decisions. The money's not there, and you've got to keep the lights on and the doors open and the janitors there." You can read my full story here at

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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