Georgia Budget Cuts May Impact Federal AIDS Funding
September 30, 2008
State budget cuts Gov. Sonny Perdue ordered last month could jeopardize federal Ryan White AIDS funding next year, say patient advocates and Department of Human Resources (DHR) employees. To cover a $1.6 billion shortfall in state revenues, Perdue asked all agencies to plan budgets envisioning cuts of 6 percent, 8 percent and 10 percent.
"At this time, 6 percent cuts have been made and resulted in furloughs, travel restrictions, [a] hiring freeze and limits on equipment purchases," said Taka Wiley, a DHR spokesperson. "All HIV Care contracts that receive state dollars have been cut by 1 percent."
"The obvious thing is it doesn't save the state any money when they furlough employees who are paid by federal dollars," said an employee in DHR's HIV unit, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There's no way we could do a 6 percent cut in our department," the employee said. A 6 percent cut "is going to take away federal dollars."
The proposed furloughs and other cuts have been approved by DHR's Board of Directors and will be reviewed by Perdue and the Office of Planning and Budget, said Bert Brantley, the governor's spokesperson. A final budget will not be complete until approved this spring by the Legislature, but furloughs would already be in effect, he said.
Under Ryan White rules as revised in 2006, states "cannot carry over more than 2 percent of their funds," said Jeff Graham, an AIDS activist and executive director of the gay rights group Georgia Equality. If furloughs and cuts result in more than 2 percent going unspent, that amount would be cut from Georgia's 2010 Ryan White allocation, he said.
In its 10 percent budget cut proposal, DHR recommended a $1.2 million reduction in the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. This, too, would put federal matching funds at risk. DHR officials are moving forward with the 6 percent cut; they are uncertain whether Perdue will ask for more.
Southern Voice (Atlanta)
09.26.2008; Ryan Lee
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.