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Republicans Want Opioid Tax Revenue In A ‘Lock Box’

By Jack O’Donnell

Republicans are pushing to have the revenue from a tax on pharmaceutical companies be put into a dedicated fund to combat opioid and heroin addiction.

The tax was approved as part of the state budget agreement and is expected to generate $100 million. The provision was proposed as a way to raise revenue to fight addiction.

But Republicans, including Sen. Terrence Murphy and 37th Senate district candidate Julie Killian, believe the money needs to be transferred to a so-called “lock box” to ensure the funding will go to fight addiction and pay for treatment.

“Albany cannot be allowed to play games with funding meant to help fight the opioid epidemic,” said Murphy, a lawmaker who represents the northern New York City suburbs. “People are dying every single day and families are being torn apart by this epidemic.  We’re finally making the pharmaceutical companies pay the damage they have caused but we can’t let Albany’s sleight of hand tricks keep that money from helping the people it is intended to.”

Killian, who is running in a pivotal special election on April 24 to fill the district vacated by Westchester County Executive George Latimer, said the tax amounted to a “bait and switch” if the revenue isn’t sent to a dedicated and protected fund.

“To fix this problem, once elected, I will propose creating a lock box for the money that is raised by this surcharge to ensure that it goes directly to effective programs that help people and families who are suffering from addiction in addition to programs that are focused on addressing the root causes of addiction,” she said.

Jack O’Donnell is a partner at Bolton St. Johns