Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Thursday she’ll begin directing the state’s $140 million share of opioid settlements to general revenue, saying lawmakers should have a say in where the money goes.
Rutledge, who leaves office next month and will become lieutenant governor, also recommended that lawmakers create a commission to come up with ideas for where to spend the settlement money.
“When you have a pot of money such as this 140-plus million dollars, (lawmakers) are going to be the ones best to decide how to use it and how to set up treatment facilities across the state,” Rutledge said at a news conference.
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Rutledge said the move would not allow the money to be used for tax cuts or programs not allowed under the opioid settlements, which generally restrict the money for treatment-related programs.
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Rutledge’s announcement doesn’t guarantee all of the money will go toward general revenue, since the state will receive some settlement funds after she leaves office next month. Tim Griffin, currently the state’s lieutenant governor, succeeds Rutledge next year.
Griffin said in a statement that when he takes office next month he’ll conduct “a comprehensive review and assessment of the office’s handling of settlement funds.”
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