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HIV groups hit in Schwarzenegger’s budget cuts

Stephen Gray July 29, 2009
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HIV and AIDS groups have suffered this week under a revised California state budget which will see funding slashed by up to $85m for care and prevention programmes.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger employed veto powers in determining which areas would have their resources cut in a revised budget which calls for a $489m in spending.

Schwarzenegger’s office gave an official figure of $52m in regard to the cuts for HIV programmes, but predictions from the Office of AIDS at the state’s Department of Public Health cite a deficit up to $33m larger.

Michelle Roland, the office’s chief, told care providers that for the rest of the year there would be “no general funds remaining for care and support”.

She predicted some care programmes would find their funding reduced by up to four-fifths compared with last year.

Schwarzenegger, elected governor in 2003, signed the 2009/2010 budget this week, describing it as “kind of like the good, the bad, and the ugly”.

The $83bn budget package saw funding slashed for child welfare, the Healthy Families initiative, which provides low-cost health insurance for poorer children, and for programmes benefiting the elderly. Schwarzenegger described these as “ugly cuts”.

“I’m the only one that is really responsible for those cuts because the Legislature left, they didn’t want to make those cuts,” he added.

Schwarzenegger’s reduced budget is partially geared towards building a $500m reserve fund, for state emergencies such as fires and earthquakes.

But Phil Curtis, director of government affairs at the AIDS Project Los Angeles told The Advocate the effects of the budget were a “public health disaster for the state of California.”

Related topics: Americas

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