Alcohol fund rally planned at state Capitol

By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Legislation passed in 2000 called for 5 percent of the gross profits from alcohol sales to be placed in a fund to fight drug and alcohol problems in New Hampshire, but this fund has not been operating as intended.

In every year but one since establishing the fund, either the governor or the Legislature has not fully implemented the 5 percent formula, advocates for full funding said at a recent Stand Up Laconia meeting in the Huot Career and Technical Center.

Kate Frey, vice president of New Futures, which advocates for treatment and prevention efforts to fight drug abuse and alcoholism, elaborated on the funding situation Monday.

Currently, 1.7 percent of the gross profits from alcohol sales goes into the fund. The House budget, to be voted on Wednesday, calls for a continuation of this percentage. Funding it at the full 5 percent level would provide an additional $10 million, she said.

The organization plans a rally Thursday at the state Capitol to urge full funding as the budget process continues and the Senate considers spending levels. Also to be pushed at the rally will be full-day kindergarten and quality affordable child care.

"A fully funded alcohol fund would allow us to broaden our approach with prevention," she said. "Recovery housing is also a huge issue in this state."

She said this money doesn't come with the kind of strings that are attached to federal funds, and so can be used for more innovative approaches to preventing and treating substance abuse.