MAP Advocate
Your AIDS Advocacy Update
Vol. 9 No. 3 - February 7, 2003

$1.2 million was cut from HIV/STD prevention contracts earlier today by
Governor Pawlenty as a part of his attempt to balance the state budget
through unallotment.  The $1.2 million includes all "unobligated contracts"
- the definition of which we do not know as of the publication of this
alert.  These cuts severely affect public health and health care access,
crippling Minnesota's efforts to stop the spread of HIV.  MAP will be
holding a community meeting at 10am and press conference at 11am tomorrow,
February 8, to discuss the cuts at our office, 1400 Park Ave.

Also In This Issue:
*  Take Action:  Email your Legislators and Send a Valentine to a Friend
*  AIDS Action Day is February 24 ? THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT!
*  Comp Sex Ed Bill Slated for Valentine's Day Introduction
*  One Down; Two to Go
*  Reading the Tea Leaves on New Commissioners
*  7 Percent Increase Proposed for Domestic HIV Spending for 2004
*  Global AIDS Funding Proposal: Devil in Details
*  A Closer Look at the "No New Taxes" Argument
*  Domestic Partner Benefits to be Dropped

Take Action:  Email your Legislators and Send a Valentine to a Friend

This Valentine's Day, spread the message that love and truth go hand in
hand.  Let your legislators know you are thinking of them and let cupid
help you deliver the message that young people need complete and medically
accurate information to stay healthy and safe.  In your valentine, ask
lawmakers to support comprehensive sex ed because 1) comprehensive sex ed
works in encouraging young people to delay the onset of sexual activity and
leads to greater use of contraception among those who do choose to be
sexually active, 2) 80 percent of Minnesotans support comprehensive sex ed
and, 3) the alternative, abstinence-only until marriage programs, are not
scientifically accurate and have not proven to be effective.

Then, check your inbox on the 13th for a Valentine from MAP that you can
forward to your friends to let them know why you support comprehensive sex
ed and why they should, too.
AIDS Action Day is February 24 ? THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT!

February 24 is MAP's tenth AIDS Action Day.  That's ten years of AIDS
activists coming to the Capitol in a show of force to meet with lawmakers
to promote fair and effective policies addressing the HIV epidemic. But
this year is different.  It may not sound like it on the surface.  Sure,
every year we fight battles over comprehensive sex ed, minor's consent and
funding for HIV care.  Every year it has been close, but more often than
not we have come out on top.  But this year is different because our
opponents have the votes to win.  Many of our friends in the House and
Senate are gone, along with some of the moderates who we could count on to
come to our side when we needed them.  Gone too is a governor who would
veto attacks on sexual health services.  Without a big show of support from
people who care about how Minnesota fights this epidemic, this session may
not end with the same sigh of relief we have had in previous sessions.
Don't wait - sign up now for AIDS Action Day by visiting MAP's Web site at
Comp Sex Ed Bill Slated for Valentine's Day Introduction

MAP, along with our partners in Sex Ed For Life, will be introducing a bill
on February 13 to guarantee that young people in Minnesota will have access
to comprehensive sexual health education.  Lead authors are Rep. Jim Davnie
(DFL- Minneapolis) and Sen. Mee Moua (DFL-St. Paul).  The current mandate
for K-12 schools to teach HIV and STD prevention has been muddied with
language by social conservatives that encourage a focus on abstinence-only
until marriage and has allowed opponents of comprehensive sex ed to distort
the law and pressure school districts to only teach abstinence.  Sex Ed For
Life will be holding a press conference on February 14th.  Visit MAP's Web
site often to track the bill.  Click here to see the rest of MAP's action
agenda for the 2003-04 session.
One Down; Two to Go

Gov. Pawlenty has presented his State of the State Address.  On February
11, he'll be releasing the outline for his 2004-05 budget with the details
to follow on February 18th.  The winds at the Capitol point toward an
ominous future for health care assistance.  Deep, deep cuts in Medical
Assistance [Medicaid] and General Assistance Medical Care are feared and
anticipated.  Nationally, it is estimated that half the people living with
HIV depend upon Medicaid and programs such as this for basic health care.
Some HIV specific services, including HIV case management also depend, in
part, on MA dollars.  The budget details will also reveal what the future
holds for HIV and STD prevention.  Will there be cuts?  Will the dollars be
redirected to an abstinence-until-marriage focus?  Will efforts be made to
eliminate funding for groups that serve gay and bisexual men?  Of course,
lawmakers still need to decide what to do about the current budget.  Check
back to our Web site.  We'll be updating the site regularly as the budget
news unfolds.
Reading the Tea Leaves on New Commissioners

HIV advocates are looking at clues about Gov. Pawlenty's recent
commissioner appointments to figure out what it means for HIV prevention
and care.  Sheri Yecke, new commissioner of Children, Families and
Learning, comes from Virginia where she has strong affiliations with social
conservatives and has spoken out in favor of sex education being offered
only as an opt-in with a strong emphasis on abstinence.   Former State
Representative Kevin Goodno will lead Department of Human Services.  Goodno
worked with MAP while in the House on pharmacy access, STD prevention,
transfer of responsibility for Ryan White to DHS and other issues.  He
faces a tough task of being directed to make deep, deep cuts in health care
funding and income support.  Hospital CEO Dianne Mandernach is the head of
the Department of Health has little experience in public health but has
come out supporting comprehensive sex ed and other prevention programs.
7 Percent Increase Proposed for Domestic HIV Spending for 2004

Bush also announced on Friday that he would seek $16 billion for domestic
HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment as part of his fiscal year 2004 budget
proposal, a 7 percent increase over previous years.  The proposal will
include a $93 million increase for HIV/AIDS research and a $100 million
increase to purchase antiretroviral drugs for uninsured patients through
AIDS Drug Assistance Programs.  Although the proposal is a marked
improvement over previous budgets that have called for flat-funding for
HIV, it is still not enough to address the needs that are out there and
jeopardizes state AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and Housing and
Opportunities for People With AIDS programs.  Activists also need to be
aware of how the money is being spent.  Much of the money for care is going
into pharmaceuticals and concerns remain about prevention dollars being
targeted to unproven, anti-gay abstinence programs.

Global AIDS Funding Proposal: Devil in Details

President Bush also announced $15 billion over the next five years to fight
AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean and proposed establishing a coordinator of
international AIDS assistance.  Although some hailed the commitment of
money, HIV activists are hoping that the details of the proposal do not go
unnoticed.  By not allotting enough dollars to the Global Fund, Bush has
proposed a "go it alone" plan that actually robs money from child survival,
orphan support and development assistance priorities in order to fund the
new AIDS initiative.
A Closer Look at the "No New Taxes" Argument

The price of government has been dropping in Minnesota since 1999.
Surprised to hear that? Yup, through the 90s, the cost of government as a
percentage of Minnesotan's income was about 17.5 percent.  Now it's around
15.5 percent.  Not only has the tax burden been going down, but it's been
shifted more and more from broad based, progressive state taxes to the
local property taxes - the one's least responsive to a person's income and
ability to pay.  Some say the reason the State has a budget crisis is that
government spending has been going up.  The reality is, it hasn't.  What we
did was pull back state spending and cut taxes. Now we are told the only
choice for Minnesotan's is to make deep, deep cuts.  However, if things
like HIV and STD prevention, health education for kids, and health care and
social services for communities affected by HIV are important, we may need
to ask if we should have more options.  Maybe, just maybe, the solution to
the State's budget woes can be a balanced mix of spending adjustments and
inching up the cost of government a bit back toward those pre-1999 levels.
Care about HIV?  Thought taxes had nothing to do with that?  We all may
need to think again - especially our Governor and State Legislators.
Domestic Partner Benefits to be Dropped

Senate and House leaders have agreed to a deal that will lead to
ratification of the state labor contract that went into effect in 2001.
However, the deal includes dropping domestic partner benefits.  State
employees who are using their state insurance benefits for partners will
have until July to find other coverage.