Wednesday, February 27, 2002/lk
In the eight years of serving as the Executive Director for Mid-Columbia Center for Living (MCCFL) nothing has moved me to write as much as the article on the beer and wine tax and the front page picture of the bottles of beer on the production line. Our agency provides public addiction, mental health and developmental disability services to Hood River, Wasco, Sherman and Gilliam counties. The Governor's proposed tax increase for beer and wine will NOT effect our local brewery. The budget passed in the special session translates into a $68,000 dollar cut for MCCFL's local outpatient substance abuse services. The budget did not cut Detox Services (of which we have none here). The plan as I read it is to not require the beer and wine industry to pay their fair share of the costs associated with their product. Keep open the Detox Centers so we have a place to allow persons who are extremely intoxicated to safely dry out. Reduce outpatient services which would allow persons to get the necessary treatment so they don't end up in Detox Services or endangering all of us on the road. Does this seem logical to you?
If it was ethical and it did not violate confidentiality laws I would like to submit the pictures of the seven-hundred and sixty nine (769) clients we served in our substance abuse program in FY 2001. Maybe we could also fit the pictures of the families, friends and employers that were adversely affected by their problems? Three hundred and forty six clients (346) were from Hood River. Of the total treated forty-eight percent (48 percent) were in our DUII education and treatment programs -- these persons where driving under the influence of intoxicants.
According to the Oregon Department of Transportation alcohol continues to be the overwhelming contributing factor in impaired driving fatal and injury crashes.
Substance abuse is a disease process that if not treated during the early stages result in addiction. I would urge you to contact your representatives before the special session next Monday and advocate for no reduction in outpatient substance abuse treatment and an increase in the wine and beer tax to help pay for the costs of treatment. Your legislators believe that the public will not support an increase in wine and beer tax even though the public is paying now for state sponsored treatment programs through state income tax.
If you support an increase in the wine and beer tax -- please contact Rick Metsger at 503-668-4378, Patti Smith at 503-695-6385, and Greg Smith at 541-676-5154.
Or, go to the legislative website (www.leg.state.or.us) and leave an email.
Sharon Guidera, M.A.
Executive Director, Mid-Columbia Center for Living