Contrary to a report from the Washington Post, Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, did not slash funding for a program for teen mothers.
The Washington Post’s Paul Kane reported late yesterday that “Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms.” The far-left Huffington Post repeated the story this morning. To support this contention Kane pointed out that “Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million.”
Covenant House Alaska is a faith-based, not-for-profit agency which provides a variety of services to troubled teens, including a home for teen moms. Although the work with adolescent mothers is only one component of their work, Kane focused on this aspect of their work due to the revelation that Governor Palin’s teen daughter is 5 months pregnant.
In Alaska, the governor is allowed to reduce spending allocations in the service of sound management and fiscal accountability. To prove his contention that Palin slashed funds for teen mothers, Kane produced the Alaska 2008 budget with Sarah Palin’s line by line adjustments. It is true that lawmakers allocated 5 million to Covenant House Alaska and that Mrs. Palin cut that allocation to 3.9 million dollars. However, what is misleading about the Post headline is that the allocation of 3.9 million is three times more than Covenant House Alaska received from government grants in 2007. According to records on the Covenant House Alaska website, the organization received just over 1.3 million dollars from grants in 2007 and nearly 1.2 million in 2006. Even with the reductions, Governor Palin signed a budget which provided three times more funds than the organization received in 2007.
Thus, the Post report is misleading on two counts. One, the funding in question went to an organization which engaged in many different services, including work with teen mothers. There was no funding exclusively earmarked for pregnant teens.
Two, the report leaves the impression that the Governor reduced existing funding levels, when in fact, the Palin-approved budget allowed a massive expansion of funding for this worthy faith-based organization. The organization’s total revenue for 2007 was just over 3 million dollars and so the 3.9 million approved by Palin and the Alaska legislature was a huge increase.
Viewed within the context of prior expenditures, it becomes clear that Governor Palin increased funding for social services which benefit kids, not “slashed” them as the Post reported. However, it also appears clear that she is not afraid to exercise some measure of fiscal discipline, even when the reduction targets those of similar ideology. Covenant House wants to expand housing capability and as a part of their marketing makes a clear religious appeal saying,
Just as Christ in His humanity is the visible sign of God’s presence among His people, so our efforts together in the covenant community are a visible sign that effects the presence of God, working through the Holy Spirit among ourselves and our kids.
I cannot figure out why this context was not provided. It is clear that Governor Palin did not cut funding. It cannot be a cut in funding when you get a raise, even if the raise was not as great as originally contemplated.
UPDATE: 9/4/08 – The Covenant House Alaska Executive Director states that she is glad for the support of Governor Palin.