State's Addiction Agency Chief Talks Opioid Crisis And Budget, And Battling Poverty Locally

Ohio is at or near the top of every list of states ranked by overdose deaths from heroin. The House version of Gov. John Kasich’s budget is due out next week when lawmakers return from spring break. And it remains to be seen whether lawmakers will put more money toward this epidemic. Tracy Plouck, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, talks about the opioid crisis and the budget.

Nearly 15% of Ohio’s population – 1.6 million people – lives in poverty. There’s a program that’s been around in Ohio since 1999 called Bridges Out of Poverty – it’s in use in 44 states and five countries, and in 21 counties in Ohio. It seeks to help people in poverty with problems related to technology, transportation, health, family and education, and it hopes to explain those problems to employers and community leaders. Backers boast a success rate of 85%, but it never got any state funding until it was awarded $11.5 million in the current budget, which ends in June. One of the counties running the Bridges Out of Poverty program is Marion County, and Statehouse correspondent Jo Ingles recently took a look at how it works – to understand why it does for many.

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