Jun 12, 2009 7:46 PM GMT
Monday, June 11, 2009 – By Steve Martin, West Hollywood
West Hollywood, California (Monday, June 11, 2009) - While so much of the community’s focus and passion has been devoted to Proposition 8 and the recent California Supreme Court ruling, we now face a new challenge based upon California’s huge budget short fall.
Steve Martin is an attorney and former-city council member. WeHo News - West Hollywood’s ONLY Newspaper, ONLY ONLINE!
With the governor proposing to slash over $80 million dollars from HIV/AIDS funding, the gay and lesbian community has to re-focus and concentrate on the crisis at hand.
Part of the governor’s proposal is to eliminate $12 million from the ADAP program. This is a program that provides free HIV medications to the uninsured. Given the costs of such medications, if people are cut from the program, they will die.
The other cuts to HIV/AIDS programs for testing, education and mental health are pretty grim but cutting the ADAP program seems incredibly cynical and callous. It is certainly counter productive.
Without medications people will get sick and wind up clogging already over whelmed emergency rooms and County hospitals. This will cost far more than the relatively paltry $12 million the governor proposes to save.
There will be employed and productive Californians who will go on welfare because they will not longer be able to work.
This is the sort of logic that got California in this budget mess in the first place.
Indeed the proposed cuts may put California in danger of losing Federal Ryan White funds, as these funds are conditioned upon matching State funds for HIV programs. That would only compound the misery.
Of course we are in competition with all sorts of other special interest groups, including ones who we like. But there can be temporary cuts in after school programs and education assistance until California gets it’s finance house in order. A “temporary” cut in providing HIV drugs would have permanent effect on many of the people in the ADAP program.
Of course no one wants to see cuts in health care and education or lay offs of public employees, but we as a community need to focus on our issue, which is literally a matter of life or death.
Fortunately groups like Stonewall Democratic Club and AIDS Healthcare Foundation, (AHF), have been organizing a response but we need massive numbers of calls and letters to get through the cacophony of conflicting voices in Sacramento as everybody has a stake in the proposed budget.
Virtually all special interest groups are playing the media and claiming that they must be immune from cuts or California civilization as we know it will collapse. It is hard to match the power of the education and State employee lobbies.
For example, Pat Morrison devoted an hour of her show on local National Public Radio to proposed cuts in community college athletic programs. You would think from hearing from the people she interviewed that this was the most potentially tragic aspect of the current budget crisis.
It just seemed so surreal. Until the State can get sufficient funding for it’s many worthy and necessary programs and reform budgeting by ballot measures, we are going to see cuts in programs. And we are going to have to be willing to provide that additional revenues.
I would love to see the entire West Hollywood City Council and other openly gay and lesbian elected officials camp out in Sacramento until we can insure ADAP funding.
Frankly local officials in many communities are simply not even aware of this program or the number of people in their community who may be impacted by these cuts, so they are not going to be lobbying on this issue. That is why electing openly lesbian and gay officials is so important to our community.
Once again that means each of us needs to make our voices heard.
We need to call, write and email the Governor, the Speaker and our local legislators. Calling our City Council members is not a bad idea either. We need to mobilize in the same way as we did last fall to oppose Proposition 8, but we need to do it immediately.
Our State Senator is Fran Pavley and our Assembly member is Mike Feuer. You can send emails to them if you google their web sites.
Senator Pavley can be reached at her Sacramento office at (916) 651-4022; FAX (916) 324-4823. Her District office number is (310) 314-5214.
Mike Feuer can be reached at (916) 316-2042; (FAX) (916) 319-2142; his District office number is (310) 285-5498.
After we get through this crisis, we have to be involved in the reform of the State’s budgeting process, including elimination of the two thirds majority to pass a budget.
There are a number of reforms that simply need to be enacted to make this State governable.
We need to question California’s political sacred cows such as term limits and ballot box budgeting by special interests. These are “