Although officials last week restored $150,000 to the 2003 Milwaukee County budget for HIV prevention and needle-exchange programs that had been cut by county executive Scott Walker, the county's finance committee on Thursday voted 6-1 to limit the use of the funds, again eliminating funding for the needle exchange, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Walker originally cut $230,000 from the county budget, saying that HIV prevention programs are not the responsibility of county government and that the needle-exchange program fosters illegal drug use.
Last week the finance committee decided to put back $150,000 of the cuts proposed by Walker but did not decide to restrict the use of the money until Thursday's vote. All of the HIV prevention money will go to the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, which also operates the needle-exchange program, with the stipulation that no county tax dollars be spent on the needle exchange. The full board of county supervisors is set to vote on the budget next month. If the restricted HIV prevention funds are approved, AIDS Resource Center staff say they will seek outside funding for the needle-exchange program.