Some Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature are calling for the release of some funding, from Wisconsin’s share of an opioid settlement. Last week, the Republican co-chairs of the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee rejected a plan submitted by the state Department of Health Services, to spend money from Wisconsin’s share of an opioid lawsuit settlement.
At the Capitol on Wednesday, state Senator Jon Erpenbach, a Democrat on the committee, called for the release of at least a small portion of that, for Narcan, which can used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
“The idea that we could spend $3 million and get Narcan all over the state of Wisconsin is so important. Just absolutely so important. And the Republicans who objected to this, they’re at a different level of stupid right now, and it’s dangerous,” Erpenbach said.
The first phase of the DHS plan allocates $3 million for Narcan, $2 million for fentanyl test strips and $1 million towards drug prevention efforts.
In a statement JFC co-chairs, Senator Howard Marklein and Representative Mark Born, did not cite any specific objections to the plan. And DHS Secretary designee Karen Timberlake doesn’t know, either
“We have received no further communication about what is still lacking in the updated plan that we submitted at the end of July”, she said.
Born and Marklein’s statement said the committee “will swiftly improve the plan” to distribute the funds. DHS will receive 30 percent of the $400 million from the suit, disbursed over the next 16 years.
Erpenbach and and Timberlake were joined at Wednesday’s press conference by Attorney General Josh Kaul and Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett. Barrett and Kaul are both up for reelection and face Republican opponents in November, as does Governor Tony Evers, in whose administration Timberlake serves. Erpenbach announced last year that he is not seeking reelection.