- Governor Christie Delivers 2017 State of the State Address
Governor Christie Delivers 2017 State of the State Address
Governor Christie delivered his seventh State of the State Address on Tuesday and focused his speech on his comprehensive plan to combat the “epidemic of drug addiction in our state.”
He began his comments by highlighting his Administration’s fiscal achievements and noted that he delivered on his five central promises of his 2016 speech.
The Governor noted that under his Administration 278,000 jobs have been created; there have been seven consecutive years of private sector job growth and the state’s unemployment has fallen from 9.8 percent when he entered office to 5 percent today.
He highlighted the reduction in discretionary spending, the decrease in the sales tax and the elimination of the estate tax.
Plan to Combat the Epidemic of Drug Addiction
The Governor announced the launch of a one-stop website (REACHNJ.GOV) and a state hotline to make it easier to gain access to treatment for substance abuse.
He called for an additional funding for behavioral health providers and changing current regulations to allow 18 and 19 year olds to be treated as children to allow them access to treatment beds that are currently empty, and providing $1 million for colleges to set up housing for treatment.
Highlighting his work with Democratic Senator Joe Vitale, Governor Christie called for easing the restrictive rules for residencies that provide substance-free housing in communities. He also called on the Legislature to expeditiously pass a bill mandating that no insured can be denied coverage for the first six months of drug rehabilitation treatment.
The Governor also announced several prevention efforts. He directed the Attorney General's office to limit the supply of opioid-based pain medications that physicians, dentists and other licensed health care providers prescribe to patients.
He called for limiting the supply of painkillers to 5-days that can be obtained at the outset of treatment and requiring prescribers to consult with patients and provide further authorization for additional quantities. The Governor stated that if necessary, he would allow the Attorney General to open investigations into the prescribing practices of the medical community and their interactions with the industry manufacturing these drugs.
Governor Christie also raised the need to partner with the federal government to maximize Medicaid funds for treatment and to increase the amount of treatment beds.
Legislative Democrats were generally supportive of these plans and pledged to work with the Governor to address these problems, especially his call to introduce and pass the insurance coverage legislation in the next 30 days.
Senate and Assembly leaders noted that the drug epidemic is linked to many of the other major challenges that the State faces, including access to health care, access to education and access to good paying jobs. They also pointed out that future actions by President-Elect Trump and Congressional Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act may have fiscal implications on Governor Christie’s substance abuse treatment plan.
Click here to read the full State of the State.