The Milwaukee County board's finance and audit committee voted unanimously last week to restore $150,000 to the county's 2003 budget that supports a needle-exchange program and other AIDS prevention efforts, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The original proposed budget for the county did not include funding for the program and cut more than $230,000 for AIDS prevention programs in the Milwaukee area. County executive Scott Walker said he does not believe it is the county's responsibility to handle AIDS prevention work and he thinks the needle-exchange program would encourage illegal drug use. The program is run by the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.
Walker blasted the committee's move to restore funding for the needle exchange. "I have a hard time believing that a majority of Milwaukee County taxpayers want their tax dollars going to pay to continue the habits of illegal drug users," he said. He has threatened to veto any budget changes that push the budget into a deficit or cause tax increases. The full county board will vote on the amended budget on November 4.