Foundation Encourages the Legislature to Take Action to Restore Funding
Today’s action by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to impose drastic cuts to health and human services above and beyond those already made by the state Legislature could jeopardize public health in California for years to come, according to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
The governor’s decision to cut an additional $489 million from the state budget, including $52 million from the state Office of AIDS, is reckless public policy, said Mark Cloutier, CEO of the Foundation.
“In a time of great economic hardship, California is balancing its budget by eliminating services to its most vulnerable citizens,” Cloutier said. “By wiping out all state funding for HIV prevention and testing, we risk a serious setback in the hard-won progress we've made against the AIDS epidemic in California.”
Cloutier noted that California has the second highest prevalence rate of HIV infection in the nation, second only to New York.
The governor used his line-item veto authority to cut more than $52 million in general fund support for HIV/AIDS education and prevention, therapeutic monitoring, counseling and testing, early intervention, home and community-based care, and housing. The only programs that survived the cuts were ADAP, which provides access to lifesaving treatment for low-income people with HIV, and AIDS surveillance.
Today’s cuts to the state’s HIV/AIDS budget are in addition to more than $30 million in reductions already approved by the state Legislature. The governor’s vetoes also slash millions of dollars from the state’s Medi-Cal program, which provides medical care for the state’s poorest residents.
Cloutier called on the state Legislature to do everything in its power to restore funding to the state Office of AIDS and other vital health services for disadvantaged Californians.
“We are asking state leaders to do whatever is necessary to maintain modest cuts to services without jeopardizing public health for years to come,” said Cloutier.
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation provides leadership to prevent new HIV infections. Linking community experience with science, the Foundation develops ground-breaking prevention programs and bold policy initiatives to promote health and create sustainable progress against HIV. Established in 1982, the Foundation refuses to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable.