Lobbying Guide: Fight budget cuts to HIV/AIDS programs.
Posted Jan 27 2009 3:52pm
This Thursday, January 29 from 10am-12pm is AIDS lobby day at the Massachusetts State House, Nurses Hall.
Please join us to fight budget cuts to HIV/AIDS prevention and services:
• Black, Latino and gay citizens are more likely to become infected with HIV/AIDS than any other groups.
• The State Budget has been and is going to be cut drastically in the next few months. The Governor has said everything is “on the table.”
• These may include cuts for life-saving AIDS prevention, education, services and treatment.
Continuing FY09 and FY10 budget cuts may result in significant budget cuts to public health systems, including HIV/AIDS. It is vital that the HIV/AIDS community makes its voice heard at the State House to protect the funds that protect people at risk of HIV/AIDS and keep people living with HIV/AIDS healthy and connected to care. Make your voice heard: Tell the State House no more cuts to the AIDS Line Item.
Please attend the AIDS Budget Lobby Day, sponsored by Project ABLE and supported by the Massachusetts Coalition to End HIV (MCTEH) at the State House on January 29, from 10-12 and bring friends!
Lobbying Guide Who do I talk to? If you want to know ahead of time who your legislators are, click here. Enter your address carefully and when you get the results scroll all the way to the bottom to find your Representative and Senator in General Court.
What do I say? We’ve posted some talking points on HIV/AIDS and tips on lobbying below to help you through your conversation with your legislator’s office.
HIV/AIDS in MASSACHUSETTS
· In the last 8 years, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts increased by nearly 40%. During that same time period, state funding for HIV/AIDS fell by 30%.
· There are at least 17,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts. There are an additional 8,000-10,000 people who are also infected with HIV/AIDS who are unaware of their HIV status or are not in care.
· The rate of HIV infection for gay and bisexual men is 25 times higher than for heterosexual men.
· 53% of people living with HIV/AIDS are black and Latino. Together, black and Latino residents make up only 12% of the overall state population.
· 83% of women recently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are women of color.
· This October 2008 “9C” cuts to the budget eliminated services at all STD clinics and reduced the following HIV/AIDS services: home health services, prevention and education programs, counseling and testing programs, client services, and residential support services. These cuts are in addition to a 30% reduction in funds experienced over the past 7 years.
[citations available for all facts]
I’M NERVOUS: Take a deep breath. It is going to be okay. Your tax dollars pay these people’s salaries.
THIS IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED: The person I talked to is NOT the legislator, she looked like a 12 year old, and we had to stand in the hallway. Don’t be upset or panic. You aren’t being disrespected or ignored. If your meeting is with an aide, it is that person’s job to communicate everything you said to the legislator .
YOU ARE THE EXPERT: More often than not, you will know more about this subject than your legislator will. You are in a good position to educate the legislator on why an issue is important and why your legislator should adopt your position. If you have them available, leave fact sheets and other information material that the legislator and his or her staff can read at a later time.
Be Polite: An active argument may lock your representative into a position from which he or she cannot retreat. Be firm in presenting your position and correct mistaken information the legislator may have, but do so calmly and rationally.
Let them talk: It will make them feel good that you are willing to listen, and most importantly, it will give you valuable information on where they are at and whether there is any hope hat you can affect their vote, or that they will come around to your position.
Admit you don’t know: You may not know the answer to a question your legislator has asked. Tell them you don’t knowand offer to check on it and get back to the legislator. You can contact AIDS Action at 617.450.1315 to follow up on any questions. Say “Thank you”: Thank your legislator for his or her time, even if the outcome of the discussion wasn’t what you wanted. If you find out later that your legislator has acted as you requested, a follow-up letter or phone call will let him or her know that you appreciate his or her responsiveness.