RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue released her budget proposal today, announcing a planned total of $19 billion in spending that cuts almost $1 billion through employee eliminations and cuts for all departments except for education.

The budget also includes an additional $14 million for the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). The program funds life-saving medications for those living with HIV/AIDS. The legislature had already alloted some $11 million to ADAP next year. The additional monies ensure ADAP’s ability to serve increased needs.

The program , however, will only be opened back up for those up to 125 percent of poverty. ADAP once served those up to 300 percent of poverty level.

In January, state officials announced a cap to new ADAP enrollment. Officials said increased needs had put a strain on the program and capping new enrollment would ensure continued service for those already receiving assistance.

If approved by the state legislature, the additional $14 million in ADAP funding would aid the nearly 400 individuals currently on the ADAP waiting list since January.

Equality North Carolina had lobbied the governor’s office requesting the increased funding. Executive Director Ian Palmquist said the new budget proposal wasn’t “everything we’d hope for” but that it would do in such a tight economic time.

“This is a huge step in a really difficult budget,” Palmquist told qnotes over telephone.

He said his group and members of the North Carolina AIDS Action Network planned to address the issue with legislators on their joint lobby day on May 25.

“We hope that the House and Senate budget writers will follow the governor’s lead and make sure there is additional funding there to serve the folks who need it most,” Palmquist said.

The state’s next fiscal year — for which Perdue’s proposed budget has been presented — runs from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.