Spending on combating ‘risky behavior’ goes way up in ND

By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

RISKY BEHAVIOR: North Dakota saw a 21 percent increase in state and federal spending on programs addressing risky behavior. Most of the increase went to programs addressing drunk driving and tobacco use.

BISMARCK, N.D. — By the time the 2013-15 biennium is completed, North Dakotans will have seen a more than 21 percent increase in spending on programs to combat so-called “risky behavior.”

That’s according to a new report by Legislative Council, which surveyed state and federal spending by state agencies on “programs relating to prevention and treatment of alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse, and other kinds of risk-associated behavior.”

The state spent more than $122 million in combined state and federal funds addressing risky behavior in the 2011-13 biennium, but that total increased that to more than $148 million in the current biennium, a roughly $26 million increase, mostly to programs addressing alcohol and tobacco use.

Most of the spending breaks down into three major areas, with the state seeing more spending on tobacco prevention than drunk driving and underage drinking combined.

  • Drug and substance abuse: $67.179 million
  • Tobacco use: $21.36 million
  • Drunk driving and underage drinking: $13.414 million

Four state agencies saw spending increases of more than $1 million.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office saw the largest increase in risky behavior spending. The state’s 24/7 sobriety program, which provides daily testing for frequent and egregious DUI violators, went from less than $1 million to more than $8 million in spending.

The Department of Human Services saw a $7.26 million increase in spending, mostly for programs focusing on substance abuse.

The Department of Corrections saw a $5.61 million increase for programs addressing prisoner addiction counseling and DUI offenders.

The Tobacco Prevention and Control Committee saw a $4.056 million increase for public education and tobacco cessation programs.

You can reach Rob Port at rport@watchdog.org

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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