I got a few e-mails from folks who thought my story in last Saturday’s paper misled readers about the governor’s proposal to eliminate the General Assistance Unemployable program and cut off benefits for 16,000 people.
They said it gave readers the impression that all the people with drug and alcohol additions were enrolled in ADATSA (Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Support Act) program, where they get money only if they get drug treatment. Not so, they said.
Thirty-two percent of the folks on GAU have drug or alcohol problems (along with some other problem), and they aren’t as sympathetic a group as my story suggested. (My story did say that people with drinking or drug problems could be on GAU, but they also had to have some other physical or mental problem to qualify. If drugs is their ONLY problem, they can’t get on GAU.)
Here is a report that examined the caseload in 2003-04. It has a lot of detail about the kinds of folks who get a $339 monthly check and medical coverage from the state.
It also noted that 30 percent of the nearly 23,000 people who were on GAU for part of that biennium had been arrested at least once. Among those with drug problems, 55 percent were arrested at least once over those two years.
By the way, the governor also wants to cut ADATSA and the 6,000 people on that program. Overall, cutting both programs would save $415 million in 2009-11.