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Cuomo's Budget Release: AIDS Institute Safe; Fate of Medicaid Uncertain; Shelter Spending Slashed

By Julie Turkewitz

February 1, 2011

AIDS Institute programmatic funding safe; welfare programs see big cuts.

AIDS Institute programmatic funding safe; welfare programs see big cuts.

An initial review of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's 2011-2012 New York State budget reveals that the AIDS Institute's programmatic funding is safe -- for this year -- but that Cuomo plans to delay an increase in public assistance, halt state funding for an NYC welfare program, and reduce the amount the state spends on city shelters.

"I am cautiously grateful that the AIDS Institute has been held harmless, but nothing is final until it's final," said terri smith-caronia, Housing Works' vice president for New York advocacy and public policy. "My major concern is what's going to happen to Medicaid in New York State."

Under the proposed budget, the AIDS Institute, the agency that coordinates the state's response to AIDS, would receive the same $23 million it received last year for its prevention and care programs (see top of page 152). Notably, the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program would not receive cuts -- even as other states struggle to fund their own drug assistance programs.

It will not really be clear, however, how the budget will impact people living with HIV/AIDS until Cuomo reveals a specific plan for revamping the state's Medicaid system. While the governor has said he plans to cut about $3 billion in Medicaid spending, the details of those cuts will not be released until March 1, when Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team proposes details for initial changes to the program.

It is clear, however, that services for low-income people, many of them living with HIV, are going to get cut.

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The New York/New York New York III program, which provides housing for chronically homeless people with HIV, would suffer under this plan. Last year, it received a $2.85 million cut, which Cuomo's plan maintains.

The governor proposes delaying a 10 percent increase in public assistance dollars (called the Public Assistance Grant Increase) set to occur this year. Thousands of people who rely on public assistance would not see their assistance rise, even as living expenses go up. The increase would instead occur in July 2012.

Cuomo also plans to eliminate state funding for the NYC Work Advantage Program, which provides assistance to households at risk of eviction or already living shelters. The proposal would leave the city responsible for the state's $35 million contribution.

The budget also slashes the amount the state spends on New York City shelters, even as the sheltered population rises (discussed in yesterday's blog). The state would drop its contribution from $84.7 million to just $69 million. Once again, the city would have to pick up the slack.

(Not surprisingly, NYC's Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't so happy about the burden he's expected to shoulder.)

The budget presented today is the governor's proposal to the legislature. He can choose to amend it in the coming days. The Senate and the Assembly will review it, develop their own plans and negotiate with the governor before passing a final budget -- hopefully near the April 1 deadline.




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