July 28, 2009
Project Inform today expressed shock at Governor Schwarzenegger's budget veto that gutted vital HIV care, testing, housing and prevention services in the final Fiscal Year 2010-11 budget. The California Legislature had agreed to a compromise proposal that would have allowed for responsible cuts to HIV programs, but fundamentally protected core efforts in the fight against HIV. However, the State Assembly failed to approve $1.1 billion in available revenues and the Governor used his line-item veto authority to eliminate state funding for all HIV programs except the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and surveillance.
These cuts will severely impact the ability to provide care for low-income people with HIV, identify people who are HIV-positive and don't yet know their status, and prevent new infections in California. Not only is this an inhumane and shortsighted policy, but it comes at a time when the federal government has recognized the critical need to reinvigorate the fight against HIV disease in the United States.
"Governor Schwarzenegger's action today was the single largest cut to HIV/AIDS services in California and demonstrated a stunning lack of humanity by balancing the budget on the backs of some of the most vulnerable people in California," said Anne Donnelly, Director of Health Care Policy. "We recognize the serious budget crisis facing the state, and are prepared to take cuts to help share the necessary pain. However, there is no justification for going so far toward gutting essential services that have been part of a model response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic for almost two decades. We know that there were alternatives to these major cuts, particularly new revenue increases. We are bitterly disappointed that the State Assembly failed to approve $1.1 billion in available revenues that could have prevented this horrible result, and we call upon them to do so immediately."
Project Inform said it was particularly distressed that HIV/AIDS programs took $59.1 of the $489 million in cuts made by the Governor today. In the final budget, epidemiology and surveillance will receive a $1 million cut, leaving $9.2 million in funding. HIV education and prevention is cut by $24.6 million; HIV counseling and testing by $8.2 million; early intervention programs by $7.3 million; therapeutic monitoring by $8 million; housing by $1.09 million; and home and community-based care by $6.3 million. In addition, $3.4 million was cut from the State Office of AIDS administration. While California continues to receive federal funding for its HIV/AIDS programs, these state cuts will cripple California's effort to prevent HIV and care for HIV positive residents.
Fortunately, the Governor did protect funding for the lifesaving ADAP, which provides access to treatment for low-income people with HIV. This will ensure that Californians living with HIV will continue to benefit from treatment that keeps them healthy and productive.
"We are appreciative that the Governor recognizes the importance of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program and has kept this program whole for the next year," continued Donnelly. "However, this action does not make up for the drastic cuts in other vital services that will cause harm to those living with HIV, making it more difficult to prevent new infections and increase ADAP enrollment."
Project Inform with its advocacy partner, Senator Mark Leno, will continue to explore every avenue to restore vital HIV/AIDS funding.