Feb. 16, 2023—Speaking before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor JB Pritzker delivered his annual State of the State and Budget address on February 15, 2023. With an outlook for "better outcomes and better futures for Illinoisans," Governor Pritzker outlined his $49.6 billion Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) budget that includes substantial investments in early childhood education, behavioral health care and workforce development.
While AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) supports these needed investments, we are disappointed that the Governor's FY24 proposed budget does not prioritize increased funding to address the racial health disparities experienced by people living with or vulnerable to HIV including our Black, Latine, and LGBTQ+ communities. Specific to health and human services, the Governor's FY24 proposed budget flat-funds most HIV-related programs when compared to FY23 and even cuts the Getting to Zero-Illinois funding by $5 million.
AFC's President/CEO John Peller shared his frustration and disappointment that the Governor's proposed FY24 budget is a barrier to ending the HIV epidemic in Illinois. "Cutting funding to the state's Getting to Zero plan to end the HIV epidemic by 2030 is an absolute non-starter. Black and Latine Illinoisans comprise 73% of those newly diagnosed with HIV in 2019 with 50% and 23% respectively. Without question, ending the HIV epidemic in Illinois is a racial justice and health equity issue. We should be doing more, not less to address these alarming racial disparities and invest appropriate resources in the communities where the need is greatest. AFC looks forward to working with the governor's staff and members of the General Assembly to prioritize increased investments in HIV testing, prevention, and treatment."
In December 2022, AFC was proud to organize a letter sent to Governor Pritzker from fifty-three Illinois organizations representing housing, healthcare and human service providers supporting $8 million in additional FY2024 investments to HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) education, prevention, testing, housing, and treatment. In addition, AFC is proud to work alongside state legislators on House Bill 1349 and Senate Bill 209, legislation that includes $8 million of new critical investments, in addition to protecting existing funding of $15 million in state funding for the African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund and $10 million for the GTZ-IL initiative.
AFC calls on HIV advocates and activists across the state to join us in Springfield for 2023 Advocacy Day on Wednesday, April 19th, and demand Governor Pritzker and the IL General Assembly prioritize the critical investments in House Bill 1349/Senate Bill 209 within the final FY24 budget. Learn more and register here.
For more than thirty-five years, AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) has led the fight for HIV prevention and treatment services across Illinois. Our continued advocacy is rooted in our collective responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our communities and amplify the voices, stories and lived experiences of people living with or vulnerable to HIV. With community as our North Star, we can reach those that have too often been left out and left behind in our fight to end the HIV epidemic in Illinois.