Candidates for governor weigh in on Haslam’s opioid plan

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Some in the Tennessee legislature say Governor Haslam’s opioid plan doesn’t go enough, but what do the candidates who want to succeed him think?

All but two of them were at a Nashville forum today where the question was asked.

Minority Democrats on capitol hill dissed the governor’s 30-million dollar plan this year to combat the opioid crisis as a “drop in the bucket.”

The language from the two Democrats in the governor’s race varied a little bit from their fellow party members at the state capitol.

House Democrat leader Craig Fitzhugh focused on the government health care plan for low income Tennesseans.

“We need to expand Medicaid that would be the quickest thing,” he told News 2 after the forum.

States that have expanded Medicaid have a 16-percent reduction in their opioid crisis.”

Karl Dean took another approach to the governor’s opiod plan.

“The issue is large enough and there is enough people suffering that more money should be put into treatment,” said Dean. “But I am glad he made the proposal.”

Two of the four major republican candidates were at the forum.

They each have their own specific opioid plans.

Randy Boyd did not want to criticisize the governor he used to work for preferring to focus on his own proposal.

“When I am governor we are going to make the biggest boldest initiative that the state has seen,” proclaimed Boyd. “I am expecting criticism (of) maybe doing too much, but no one will say we are doing too little.”

Bill Lee called the governor’s plan a “great first step” while adding his own emphasis about opioid addiction.

“Its really a mental health issue that the state can’t solve,” said Lee “But I believe the private sector, community based organizations and faith based organizations can play an integral part
in this.”

Two other major Republican candidates did not attend the forum.

A spokesperson for congressonal member Diane Black’s campaign tells News 2 she was at the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis today on the 50th Anniversary of the tragic deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Walker.

Their deaths ignited the Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike in the spring of 1968.

A spokesperson for Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell said she was busy with duties concerning the legislature Thursday.

Right after the governor’s State of the State speech Monday, she told News 2 Governor Haslam’s opioid plan “a large investment for the state” that will “go a long way to help” while being fiscally responsible.

Upper East Tennessee Republican Kay White appeared at the forum for the governor’s race.

Afterwards, she said “more is needed right now to fight the opioiod crisis.”