Dutchess County faces many challenges but two crises rise above the rest: climate change and opioids. The proposed 2020 budget did not go far enough to address these key problems and so I voted NO on the 2020 budget.
The Molinaro Administration would like us to believe they are doing all they can to fight the opioid epidemic. But more people died in Dutchess from opioids in 2018 than in any other year while deaths statewide decreased.
It has taken years to get medically assisted treatment (MAT) into our jail to help those suffering from addiction. Former addicts who were receiving prescription suboxone on the outside have been unable to continue their treatment if arrested – forcing them to go through painful withdrawal in their jail cells. And people interested in starting treatment while being held on bail are still unable to do so.
Our county’s Stabilization Center still has no on-site prescriber for people who arrive seeking help with an opioid abuse disorder. And phase 2 of the project which was supposed to bring more of those services under the same roof was scrapped after phase 1 construction was mismanaged.
Are we making progress? Yes. But when you’re facing a crisis, baby steps forward is not enough.
On climate change, the county continues to nibble around the edges. A few solar panels here, a couple of hybrid vehicles there while what we need are aggressive goals for decarbonization. We should be setting an example that other municipalities can follow.
Every year Molinaro’s commissioners and department heads come before the legislature during budget time with the same script: “We have all the people and money we need, we are doing everything possible, all is well.” Privately, they tell us that we need more mental health beds and more help for our neighbors struggling with addiction.
Molinaro likes to say his budget represents his values. Instead of prioritizing our needs, Molinaro’s 2020 budget begins and ends with his political goals: a budget that delivers the half-a-penny cut to the property tax levy as promised during his campaign while protecting the expensive PR operation in his office (whose budget has increased 3-fold) and the 13% raises for himself and his fellow county-wide electeds. Everything else must fit into that number and his department heads all know to publicly toe the line or lose their jobs.