Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used his self perceived veto authority to eliminate nearly all state general funding of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs administered by the California Office of AIDS.
In late July, the California governor "blue lined" state general fund support for all HIV/AIDS programs except HIV epidemiology and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), leaving the state’s Office of AIDS with only 20 percent of its funding for programs like HIV education and prevention, HIV counseling and testing, home health and early intervention. These were among more than $485 million in cuts made to the state’s health and human services portfolio.
The Governors action while being apparently heartless and shortsighted were probably illegal as well.
"The governor has placed at risk the lives of many thousands of Californians who depend on these vital HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs,” said APLA Executive Director Craig E. Thompson. "In doing so, he has overstepped his constitutional authority and left no other option."
"In exceeding his power, the governor has singlehandedly dismantled a critical array of programs that protect the health of all Californians -- programs that ultimately save the state from far more catastrophic spending," Thompson said. "The effects will be nothing short of devastating."
In a written opinion commissioned by state legislative leaders, the California Legislative Counsel Bureau agreed with advocates, finding that the cuts "did not constitute a valid exercise of [Schwarzenegger’s] line-item veto authority granted by… the California Constitution."
The Governor of California has the power to veto new programs, not the funding of pre-existing programs.
Schwarzenegger “blue penciled” state funding for a range of pre-existing safety-net programs, including more than $80 million from California’s HIV/AIDS portfolio
Advocates and the Counsel argue that the governor only has "blue pencil" authority over original budget appropriations. Schwarzenegger, however, made the latest cuts to Assembly Bill 1, which only "reduced the amount of an existing appropriation previously authorized" by the Legislature in February, the Counsel contends.
The governor is "not granted new expenditure authority, nor is a state officer's expenditure authority extended in any way by an item or section of a bill that solely makes a reduction of an existing appropriation," the Counsel’s memo notes. Assembly Bill 1 was passed by a simple majority in the Legislature -- not a two-thirds vote mandated for original appropriations that are subject to the blue pencil.
"The California Constitution provides important safeguards to prevent a single elected official from circumventing the entire legislative process," Thompson added. "We’re confident that the courts will agree."
The cuts will effect these services to those with HIV/ AIDS.
Therapeutic Monitoring Program.
Home and Community Based Care.
Epidemiologic Studies/ Surveillance
HIV Counseling and Testing
Education and Prevention
Early Intervention Program
In essence these cuts will devastate the prevention/ maintainence support system that has been keeping new cases of aids from occurring in California and already diagnosed patients from slipping into death.
The Protest and Vigil started in Pershing Square and ended up at the Reagan Building. Despite the joy of camaraderie that was extant in the crowd, looks of quiet desperation and fear of the future permeated the gazes of the vigil protesters.
To help you can contact the governor at.....
State Capitol Building, Sacramento, CA 95814
Telephone: 916 445 2841
Fax: 916 558 3160
You can contact Dr. Mark Horton; Director of California's Department of Public Health
at 916 558 1700 or http://ww2.cdph.ca.gov/services/contact/Pages/default.aspx
The issue that should be raised with Dr. Horton is the possible diversion of funding from Los Angeles.
Contact your state representative.
You can find out who that is by going to, http://www.legislature.ca.gov/port-zipsearch.html
Please urge them to do whatever they can do to restore HIV/AIDS funding
and to pressure The Department of Public Health and the California Office of AIDS to distribute
remaining funding to to those areas with the greatest AIDS burden.
Call, write or visit your congressional representatives.
It's recommended that you concentrate on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Henry Waxman,
Senators Boxer and Feinstein and your districts House Representative.
You can find out who that is by going to http://takeaction.lwv.org/lwv/dbq/officials/
Please urge them to support federal intervention in the form of loans and/or direct assistance.
Sources; Aids Project Los Angeles, The Aids Healthcare Foundation,Los Angeles Commission on HIV
Robert Stuart Lowden