Human Service Appropriations Chairs Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Heather Steans champions of HIV/AIDS funding
SPRINGFIELD Amid partisan turmoil in the statehouse, the Illinois General Assembly voted in its last days of session in May to increase funding for HIV/AIDS services in the 2015 budget by $1 million. This move comes after weeks of uncertainty about the future of HIV/AIDS funding in the state.
The General Assembly passed House Bill 6096 Amendment 1, which not only boosted direct HIV services, but also increased funding for other social services offered in Illinois. The state supportive housing budget, for example, was increased by $2.6 million to assist an additional 896 people in need. Supportive housing helps low-income people who are homeless and living with chronic diseases, including HIV or behavioral health issues, live successfully in the community.
HIV funding cuts over the last several years have resulted in dramatic decreases in the availability of HIV prevention, housing and supportive services across the state, which threaten the lives of people living with HIV. Tireless advocacy by people living with HIV and their allies averted a $4 million cut to total state HIV spending for services such as prevention and care. The state AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides life-saving medications to low-income people living with HIV, would have seen devastating cuts. Illinois' ADAP investment enables thousands of people living with HIV to access essential medications that they otherwise could not afford.
"Lifesaving and sustaining programs such as these aren't debatable. They can't be cut because of differing politics or priorities in policies," said Chez Ordoñez, Director of Government Relations at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). "This money provides support for those Illinois citizens who are in need of the most help. These drastic cuts should never be political or fiscal priorities they should always be moral ones."
"While we applaud the increase in HIV/AIDS funding, the General Assembly passed a broken budget that fails to provide stable revenue for lifesaving state programs," continued Ordoñez. "AFC will continue to lead community advocacy to urge elected officials to support sustainable revenue, such as continuing tax rates that were enacted in 2011."
HB 6096 increased HIV funding from $25 million in FY14 to $26 million in FY15. Supportive housing funding increased to $30.4 million and is expected to support services for 12,000 people in the next fiscal year.
"House and Senate Human Services Appropriations Committee chairs Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) fought to protect the interests of the state's HIV/AIDS community," said John Peller, interim president/CEO of AFC. "We would like to greatly thank them for their advocacy and exemplary leadership. We are also grateful for leadership from members of the House Human Services Appropriations Committee, including State Reps. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago), La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago), Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), Esther Golar (D-Chicago), Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero), Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) and Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan)."
Media contact: Chez Ordoñez, 312-334-0928, firstname.lastname@example.org