Budget Cuts-Hit the Infirmary HARD!

In November, the City of San Francisco and the California State Office of AIDS told us they would be cutting our contract funding due to the current economy.  With these 2 contracts we lost over $125,000 in funding.  Additionally, as most Foundations have endowments that are market driven, foundation giving is shriveling up.  Lastly, individual donations are down as we all feel the burden of the recession.  All these sources resulted in a 40% budget cut for St. James.

In January, we first responded to the economic crisis by trying to increase enrollment of our low-income participants into publicly funded health programs, like Family Pact, to increase our medical services billing potential.  This effort was unfortunately not enough to match our income deficit.  We found ourselves in the situation of spending twice as much money a month as we were taking in.

In April, St. James was forced to lay off 9 of our valued staff, some of whom had been with the clinic for several years.  We were also forced to close one of our clinic nights.  In addition, we had to cut our Outreach program almost entirely.  In May, we were forced to close our doors for 2.5 weeks due to delays in contract payments from the City and State. Volunteers came in each clinic night to pass out food bags to our clinic participants, letting them know we would be open soon for medical services.

These cuts are hitting our community very hard and are extremely painful.  But our wonderful staff have been bracing these cuts with tremendous bravery and resilience.  Starting in July our Outreach & Training Programs will be volunteer-driven.  We will also be cutting more clinic hours and services to keep our expenses sustainable with our current, and projected, income.  But now, the City and State are talking about cutting even more of our funding.

HIV/AIDS funding in California, including the entire budget for the State Office of AIDS, and much of the funding for syringe exchange programs, is in danger of elimination. The St. James Infirmary is in danger of loosing $200,000 in HIV Prevention funding, that’s over half of our current budget of $365,000!! As many of our staff are volunteering hours to help keep the clinic operating, we need your support NOW to keep our doors open!

Please call the Governor’s office and the offices of the Budget committee members, and let them know that these draconian measures are unacceptable. We have included a list of talking points that you are welcome to use or amend how you see fit, many of which are borrowed from Tom Ammiano’s excellent letter to the legislature opposing the cuts.

We need everyone reading this post to make at least 3 calls by the end of June. One to the Governor’s office, and at least 2 to members of the budget committee.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; Phone: 916-445-2841

Budget Committee Members Phone

Noreen Evans – Chair Dem-7 (916) 319-2007

Roger Niello – Vice Chair Rep-5 (916) 319-2005

Anthony Adams Rep-59 (916) 319-2059

Jim Beall Jr. Dem-24 (916) 319-2024

Bill Berryhill Rep-26 (916) 319-2026

Julia Brownley Dem-41 (916) 319-2041

Anna M. Caballero Dem-28 (916) 319-2028

Wilmer Amina Carter Dem-62 (916) 319-2062

Wesley Chesbro Dem-1 (916) 319-2001

Paul Cook Rep-65 (916) 319-2065

Hector De La Torre Dem-50 (916) 319-2050

Bill Emmerson Rep-63 (916) 319-2063

Mike Feuer Dem-42 (916) 319-2042

Jean Fuller Rep-32 (916) 319-2032

Danny D. Gilmore Rep-30 (916) 319-2030

Diane L. Harkey Rep-73 916) 319-2073

Edward P. Hernandez Dem-57 (916) 319-2057

Jerry Hill Dem-19 (916) 319-2019

Jared Huffman Dem-6 (916) 319-2006

Kevin Jeffries Rep-66 (916) 319-2066

William W. Monning Dem-27 (916) 319-2027

Brian Nestande Rep-64 (916) 319-2064

Ira Ruskin Dem-21 (916) 319-2021

Jim Silva Rep-67 (916) 319-2067

Sandre R. Swanson Dem-16 (916) 319-2016

§         I am calling to express my strong opposition to Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal to eliminate the Office of AIDS and many of the services it provides.

§         While we understand that this state is facing the greatest economic crisis it has seen since the Great Depression or before, it is unacceptable to eliminate critical, life-saving programs which would disproportionately affect minorities.

§         I suggest the budget be cut more in terms of prison cost, and allow the early release of nonviolent offenders. I also suggest that more revenue be raised through fee increases that can be passed by a simple majority vote, such as Vehicle License fees.

§         The AIDS epidemic has not ended. Each year, more than 50,000 people are diagnosed with HIV in the United States. California is only second to New York in the number of residents living with HIV. Despite the best efforts of scientists around the world there is no cure or vaccine to prevent HIV.  Cutting HIV prevention funding will cost lives and cost the tax payers more money in the long run.

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