New York State Assemblyman D. Billy Jones was in Plattsburgh this morning to announce funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Recovery Coalition of Clinton County and new legislation to motivate businesses to hire people in recovery.
The coalition, known as SPARCC, brings together treatment providers, educators, community organizations, elected officials, citizens and people in recovery to raise awareness and tackle substance abuse and addiction issues.
At its monthly meeting Wednesday morning, 115th District Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, a Democrat, noted the passion the group embraces to address the challenges of the opioid crisis, substance use disorders, and addiction. “This coalition you all do a great job you really do. You mean a lot to this community. So today we're proud to announce that we do have funding for the SPARCC coalition in the amount of $20,000 here that was secured through the New York state Assembly.”
Champlain Valley Family Center Executive Director Connie Wille noted that for the past two years SPARCC has been operating on a volunteer basis with no funding. “This is significant in terms of a shot in the arm and helping us to make some really great strides during 2018. The SPARCC coalition is focused on initiatives with prevention, in terms of our school districts, in terms of treatment and getting the word out there that treatment is available. And another key factor is really reversing the stigma associated with alcoholism and addiction. These dollars are going to go a long way in helping this coalition address some really key areas not just in Clinton County but in Essex and Franklin as well.”
Jones also announced that he is introducing the Jobs Recovery Act. It would help people in recovery obtain employment and motivate employers to hire them. “I'm authoring legislation to provide a tax break for businesses that will hire people in recovery because we all know there are obstacles to hiring people in recovery. There's challenges. They may have to leave for appointments. They may have to do certain things in the recovery process. It's not a big break but it's something to help business people and business people actually want this. They want to help in this. They want to hire people in recovery. So we realize there's obstacles to it so it's just a little bit of a break for business owners to hire people that are in a state certified recovery program.”
The assemblyman said his proposal was inspired by a conversation with Michael Carpenter, the president and CEO of the Northeast Group. Carpenter says he unofficially represents the business community for SPARCC. “The way to a businessman's heart is probably through his pocketbook. So if it minimizes the risk financially that they're going to take on someone in recovery they're probably more likely to do it. So it's a step in the right direction. It's not a cure all. For the person in recovery to have a place that they go to work, feel comfortable, feel productive, be a part of the community, have a future, they're paramount in getting these people to have the kind of life that we're looking for them to have. And ironically the big savings probably doesn't have as much to do with business or even the people in recovery as it does with the lack of recidivism amongst people who are in recovery. So if we keep them from having to go back to treatment or the emergency room or any of those things that's also part of this goal. So it's kind of this big circle that's coming full circle.”
Assemblyman Jones says Republican Betty Little would introduce a companion version of his Jobs Recovery Act in the New York Senate.