Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Health agency head asks for funds

by Damon Boughamer
Public Radio Capitol News, serving Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Penna. (PRCN, 1 March 2006) -- The state’s highest-ranking public health official stated his case for more funding as budget hearings continued in Harrisburg.

Secretary of Health Doctor Calvin Johnson told the House budget committee the governor’s proposed budget for his agency includes $1.7 million more for breast and cervical cancer screening.

It also increases funding for HIV/AIDS programs 2.6 percent, even as overall spending goes down.

Doctor Johnson faced several questions about the proposed Jonas Salk Legacy Fund, which would have the state borrow money for big immediate spending to attract researchers and build better labs.

He said members of the board that would select projects would be non-political -- in his words, "experts that can speak to the quality, the scientific validity and quality, of the efforts and the projects that are connected to that, as well as other industry experts that can speak to the biotechnology aspects of it, the commercialization aspects of it."

Republican leaders have described the Salk Fund proposal as having little chance of passing the legislature as proposed.


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