As many of you know, Idaho is 4th in the nation for suicides per capita, and our legislative district is first in the state. Idaho has been spending more than a million dollars a year working at this problem. Last year I asked the Department of Health and Welfare for some figures, including the number of lives saved. Health and Welfare didn’t have the data. I believe in accountability in state government. I understand some of you will think the state should not be in the suicide prevention business. However, the program has too much support in the legislature to get rid of. We had to make it better. And accountable.
I required a plan to be written, using private money, that would describe a path to specifically saving lives. If we can’t demonstrate life saving efforts, why are we spending the money?
A plan was written, including a request to add almost a million dollars to the budget. This funding request became a recommendation from the Governor, and the highest priority of the entire Health and Welfare Budget request. I said NO! The other members of JFAC stuck with me.
I believe that just because a plan is written doesn’t mean you spend more money. I believe that first, one must prove the new relationships in the plan will work, and that the plan itself is solid. Then we will see about more funding.
This was not a popular position for me to take down here, but I believe our government can be accountable and successful. But there is a lot of resistance to that ideology.