The Minnesota Health Department this week restored $1.2 million in funding for the Minnesota AIDS Project that had initially been cut from the department's budget as part of an effort to reduce a state budget deficit, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The cuts would have eliminated about 40% of the project's annual state funding and would have resulted in severe cutbacks in the agency's statewide AIDS hotline, HIV testing, counseling, and outreach programs. According to a health department spokesman, the department worked with Gov. Tim Pawlenty to rework the state's health budget to reallocate both state and federal funds from other areas to the AIDS project.
"We're completely surprised and shocked," said Bob Tracy, director of community affairs at the Minnesota AIDS Project, adding that the health department "worked creatively to come up with much less draconian cuts that--at least for the moment--leave most HIV and STD prevention grants in place."