FROM AN AIDS FOUNDATION OF CHICAGO NEWS RELEASE
June 1, 2009
AIDS Foundation of Chicago Urges Immediate Action
SPRINGFIELD, IL – JUNE 1, 2009. In the midst of one of the most severe economic downturns in decades, the Illinois General Assembly concluded its spring session on the constitutional budget deadline of May 31 by failing to pass a modest, temporary tax increase. Had they taken action, the General Assembly could have greatly reduced state's $7 billion budget gap and preserved services for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Illinoisans, including people living with and at risk of HIV.
Instead, legislators enacted a bare-bones, half-year budget that gives state agencies just 50 percent of the previous year's spending amounts. Governor Pat Quinn pledged to call legislators back to Springfield to assemble a fair revenue package that will provide additional funds.
"The AIDS Foundation of Chicago urges legislative leaders and Governor Quinn to immediately convene for budget negotiations," said Mark Ishaug, President/CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ) . "The new fiscal year starts in 30 days, ample time to solve this problem. Leaving a solution to the last minute will cause needless disruption for people living with HIV and the agencies that serve them."
"Alarmed by the prospect of funding cuts for state HIV care, prevention, and housing programs, nearly one thousand Illinois AIDS advocates contacted legislators urging them to enact revenue increases," said David Ernesto Munar, AFC's vice president of policy and communications. "We need the community to redouble their efforts until a full-year, fully-funded budget is enacted that protects essential HIV services."
Without new revenue, AIDS housing organizations could be forced to close their doors or turn away clients. HIV testing programs might have no staff to reach people at risk for HIV. Funding for essential HIV prevention services statewide remains in jeopardy without a budget plan that increases revenue to cover the cost of health and human services.
John Peller, AFC's director of government relations noted that "the continuity of care at state facilities and community-based agencies could be severely disrupted without an immediate budget solution. If these budget cuts are allowed to stand, HIV/AIDS service agencies will be forced to drastically curtail services and lay off qualified staff. These service reductions will devastate communities that already shoulder high rates of HIV/AIDS along with other health concerns, and high unemployment."
An estimated 42,000-44,000 people are living with HIV in Illinois, an estimated 3,000 Illinoisans are infected each year, and as many as 8,000-10,000 people with HIV in our state are infected with the virus but don't know it.
"Less funding for HIV prevention means more new HIV cases. Fewer dollars for AIDS housing will result in people with HIV becoming homeless or unstably housed. Cuts to services will mean that people with HIV will not have their healthcare and social service needs met. These disasters, like HIV, are fully preventable. We urge the legislature to immediately act to pass a comprehensive, fair revenue package that meets the needs of people living with or at risk of HIV in Illinois," Ishaug said.
Stay tuned to AFC's statewide advocacy network ( www.aidschicago.org/OAB ) to learn how you can take action and urge legislators to resolve the budget standoff.
( www.aidschicago.org/OAB )