Appearing with Mayor Andrew Ginther in Columbus on Monday, Richard Cordray announced his plan to combat the opioid epidemic in Ohio.
Cordray's remarks followed a presentation by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office on a new unit called the Community Intervention and Diversion Team, which will especially deal with mental health issues. The Democratic candidate for governor criticized Ohio Republicans for failing to properly fight the opioid crisis.
“We need to recognize that this problem has been neglected to an unconscionable degree by our state leaders in Columbus who wanted to wish it away,” Cordray said.
Among Cordray's plans are to declare a state of emergency in Ohio, increase funding and access for treatment and prevention, expand programs that support families struggling with addiction, boost economic opportunities for communities suffering from the epidemic, and protect Ohio's Medicaid expansion.
Cordrary says he hopes the federal government will step up if Ohio declares a state of emergency.
“Just because they haven't been a help to now doesn't mean they won't be help tomorrow. I mean, there's a growing recognition of this problem, that it's all over the country,” Cordray said. “And there's a growing acceptance that states like Ohio are among the worst of it.”
Cordray did not specify how the state would fund his proposed opioid crisis solutions.
“I will have to battle with the state legislature over budgets, as governors always do, and we will have to decide what kind of programs we're going to put forward, how we're going to integrate services,” Cordray said.
An average of more than 14 Ohioans die per day of drug overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Cordray, a former Ohio Attorney General, served as director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until November 2017. He is considered to be a top Democratic contender for the governor’s primary, and was endorsed in the primary by Ginther.
Current Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is considered to be a top Republican contender.