Proposal would help two worthy causes

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 3, 2004

Another bill to help fund and operate the mental health crisiscenters has also fallen on hard times in the Legislature.

The legislation started out as a Senate bill, sponsored byLincoln County Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, designed to fund drug courtprograms in the state. Originally, the bill intended to add anassessment to traffic citations, misdemeanors and felonies to helppay for the rehabilitative court program.

On the House side of the Capitol, the amendment was modified toinclude the mental health crisis centers.

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The bill is headed to conference so lawmakers can iron outdifferences in the amount of the assessment and how the additionalrevenue would be divided between the drug courts and the crisiscenters. We hope conferees can reach an equitable agreement.

Like the mental health centers, drug court programs are a veryworthy project. Both deserve operational funding, which was leftout in prior years when lawmakers approved creation of drug courtsstatewide and construction of the crisis centers.

With adequate funding, drug courts are designed to provide helpfor drug addicts and to keep them out of jail. That, in turn, willsave the state’s taxpayers some money.