As budget negotiations begin to get serious in Albany, Senate Democrats are calling for the state to invest resources into overdose prevention centers.
Support for the controversial, life-saving initiatives, which allow New Yorkers to consume illegal and legal drugs in a supervised setting, was laid out in the Senate’s one-house budget released on Tuesday. The inclusion of this language in the amended aid to localities budget bill represents the most significant political endorsement of overdose prevention centers at the state level and a major victory for Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat, who champions the measure.
In New York City, a non-profit organization operates two overdose prevention centers, which have prevented hundreds of overdose deaths. The state Opioid Settlement Fund Advisory Board recommended the state invest in the creation of centers around New York, but Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration rejected the proposal and has argued they’re prohibited by state and federal law from embracing the harm reduction tool.
The Senate Democrats are proposing adding $40 million to the governor’s proposal to spend on recommendations from the settlement board, including overdose prevention center programs and services. A similar investment was not included in the one-house budget proposal by the Assembly Democrats, according to VOCAL-NY, which supports the centers.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Rivera said he was proud of the Senate’s emphasis on overdose prevention centers. “The overdose crisis is a public health crisis, that’s why we’re investing opioid settlement funds into overdose prevention centers,” he wrote.