Chicago City Council Budget Committee Approves Additional $500,000 in AIDS Funding
The Chicago City Council Budget Committee on Monday voted to add to the fiscal year 2004 budget an additional $500,000 in AIDS funding to the amount requested by Mayor Richard Daley (D), the Chicago Tribune reports (Miller, Chicago Tribune, 11/18). Daley's proposed 2004 budget called for $3.7 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and care, a $100,000 increase over FY 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 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%. Twenty-eight city council members signed a resolution calling for increased AIDS prevention funding, and 10 council members cosponsored a budget amendment that would increase HIV/AIDS funding by $1 million (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/12). The city will draw on federal community development block grants to finance the additional $500,000, the Chicago Sun-Times reports (Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, 11/18). The full council is expected vote on the proposed budget on Wednesday.
"Certain aldermen are coming up with money, and like anything else, you tighten everything down and that is what you are trying to do," Daley said, adding, "Education and prevention. That is what you need" (Chicago Tribune, 11/18). Health Committee Chair Ed Smith said, "It's a start. I understand there is a possibility that we can garner some more dollars from other sources later on," adding, "I can live with it because it's going to take the agencies ... some time to get established. They're not ready for this now" (Chicago Sun-Times, 11/18). William Abolt, Daley's budget director, told City Council members that the city would continue to work closely with the council to identify new sources of funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, according to an AIDS Foundation of Chicago release. Abolt said that HIV/AIDS prevention was among the three issues that the council identified as top priorities during individual budget meetings, according to the release. AFC Executive Director Mark Ishaug said, "While we are disappointed that we did not secure the full $1 million requested, the increase is important and will be put to immediate good use. Given these difficult economic times, any increase in HIV prevention funding is welcome news that will benefit all of Chicago" (AFC release, 11/17).