Massachusetts: HIV/AIDS Funding Takes Big Hit
January 30, 2009
To address a projected $6 billion state deficit for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday released budget plans that include proposed cuts to HIV/AIDS programming for both periods. Combined with previous cuts in October, the reductions to HIV/AIDS funding for FYs 2009-10 would total more than $2.1 million from the state's $37.3 million AIDS budget over the two years, advocates say.
In addition, Patrick's FY 2010 budget plan would shift HIV/AIDS funding from its own line item to a larger infectious-disease line item. Rebecca Haag, executive director of AIDS Action Committee, said she supports the line item shift as an effort by Patrick to streamline agencies and economize.
"I've been supportive of it and hopeful that it will not only increase efficiency at [the Department of Public Health] but across the whole system," Haag said. "They're taking several separate functions and bureaucracies within the department and lining up the management."
The political director for the state gay rights organization MassEquality, Matt O'Malley, said his group supports the governor's proposals, recognizing that he faces tough fiscal constraints. The group will work with Patrick and the Ways and Means committees to preserve as much funding as possible for HIV/AIDS and items of relevance to the gay community, he said.
"But we do recognize it's going to be a very difficult budget season, and we're going to stand with the governor when he puts forward a tough budget bill," said O'Malley.
The Project AIDS Budget Legislative Effort, a state HIV/AIDS advocacy group, planned to lobby legislators on Jan. 29 to restore budget cuts and to at least protect funding at a flat level.
Bay Windows (Boston)
01.29.2009; Ethan Jacobs
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