Pubdate: Tue, 15 Oct 2002
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2002 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Author: Dave Umhoefer
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)


The Milwaukee County Board's Finance and Audit Committee on Monday 
unanimously recommended restoration of $150,000 in the 2003 budget to 
support a needle exchange program and other AIDS prevention efforts. The 
actions came after testimony about the success of needle exchange in easing 
the spread of AIDS among users of injection drugs. The AIDS Resource Center 
of Wisconsin runs the program.

County Executive Scott Walker's proposed budget excluded the program. 
Walker has said he supports AIDS prevention but does not want public money 
supporting illegal drug use through the provision of clean needles to drug 
users. His budget would eliminate $230,000 for the center, which last year 
used the money for counseling and drug treatment in addition to needle 

Walker, who has threatened to veto any spending increases that would cause 
the county tax levy to rise, reacted strongly to the finance committee's 
move. "I have a hard time believing that a majority of Milwaukee County 
taxpayers want their tax dollars going to pay to continue the habits of 
illegal drug users," he said. Walker said it was unfortunate that the 
committee, in its review of his budget proposal, added funding for the AIDS 
program and several other programs he excluded.

Supervisors were told that county money has supported staff but not the 
actual purchase of needles for the program. Eliminating the program would 
actually cost county taxpayers more in the end because AIDS patients often 
are eligible for county-financed medical care, center official Mike Gifford 
told the committee. The full board is to vote on the budget amendments Nov. 
4. Walker will then get an opportunity to veto add-backs, and supervisors 
then get a final vote.
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MAP posted-by: Beth