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New York nonprofits say elderly, poor AIDS patients at risk

New York nonprofits say elderly, poor AIDS patients at risk

Programs serving poor, elderly, and incarcerated people with HIV in New York State are facing budget shortfalls that are putting their clients at risk because Republican governor George Pataki has not released funding from the current state budget for the groups, a coalition of HIV/AIDS service organizations announced Wednesday. The funding is part of a $200 million spending package Pataki considers "pork barrel" spending. The governor initially vetoed a $93 billion budget that included the spending package, but the state legislature overrode his veto. However, Pataki has refused to release the funds, claiming that the legislature's budget violates the state's constitution and undermines his authority to regulate state spending. The coalition of AIDS groups says that many HIV/AIDS programs will be forced to suspend their services or shut down entirely within weeks unless the funds are released by the governor. Lawmakers in New York have accused Pataki of unfairly jeopardizing the health and well-being of the state's HIV-positive residents by his budgetary tactics. "The legislature acted twice to ensure this funding, first by passing a bipartisan, balanced constitutional fiscal plan and, second, by overriding the governor's veto," said Sisa Moyo, a spokeswoman for assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat. But Pataki's office blames the problem on state Democrats. "This is simply political grandstanding to cover up for a complete failure by the assembly's Democratic majority," said Andrew Rush, a Pataki spokesman.

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