California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday released a $102.8 billion budget proposal for fiscal 2004-2005 that does not include a cap on the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which he originally proposed. The budget proposal submitted to the legislature by Schwarzenegger actually includes a 13% increase in funding for California's ADAP. Schwarzenegger earlier this year proposed capping enrollment in the state's ADAP at 23,900 enrollees, which would have placed up to 1,400 low-income HIV-positive people onto a waiting list for the program by the end of the fiscal year, AIDS advocates reported. He also had called for a 2% cut in spending on HIV prevention and treatment programs statewide. But his final budget proposal calls for $67 million in state funds for ADAP, an increase of $27 million over fiscal 2003-2004 levels.
"We are very pleased that the governor was willing to reconsider his position," San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Dana Van Gorder said. "Ultimately, money spent to prevent or delay the onset of AIDS saves the state a substantial amount of money in acute health care costs. This is both a humane and cost-effective program, and the governor deserves credit for recognizing that." AIDS Project Los Angeles executive director Craig Thompson also praised Schwarzenegger's spending proposal. "It is clear that both the administration and the legislature understand that this is no time to scale back the state's efforts to fight AIDS."