Chicago Mayor To Increase City’s HIV/AIDS Funding Following City Council Lobbying Effort
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (D) is expected to increase city HIV/AIDS funding to combat the epidemic among the city's black and Hispanic populations, a top mayoral aide said on Monday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports (Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, 11/11). The mayor's proposed 2004 budget calls for $3.7 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and care, a $100,000 increase over 2003 spending levels. However, city council members late last month requested a $1 million increase in HIV/AIDS funding, saying that they were concerned that the proposed funding level does not adequately reflect an increase in the city's number of HIV cases among African Americans, Hispanics and men who have sex with men. Together, African Americans and Hispanics make up 81% of the Chicago's new AIDS cases. In addition, the number of reported AIDS cases has increased 32% since 1997, while city funding for HIV prevention programs has decreased 8%. Although Daley had said he "wish[ed] he could do more" in terms of funding for HIV/AIDS, Chicago Health Commissioner John Wilhelm said that any increase above Daley's proposed $3.7 million was unlikely (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/31).
City Council Changed Mayor's Mind
Two weeks after Daley said that the city could not afford to increase HIV/AIDS spending, Budget Director Bill Abolt said that the mayor will "go beyond" the $100,000 increase in funding in the second round of amendments to the $4.8 billion budget, which has been approved by the city council's Budget Committee, according to the Sun-Times. Although Abolt did not give a specific dollar amount of the increase or say where the additional funds would come from, he said that the lobbying campaign by some members of the city council "persuaded the mayor to change his mind," the Sun-Times reports. Twenty-eight city council members have signed a resolution calling for increased AIDS prevention funding, and 10 council members have cosponsored a budget amendment that would increase HIV/AIDS funding by $1 million. Abolt said, "This is a significant issue. There's clear broad-based support within the council, and we want to accommodate their concerns," adding, "We want to make sure that the budget addresses the issues that they see in the community" (Chicago Sun-Times, 11/11).