Only weeks ago, Indiana becoming the first state to decide that Planned Parenthood would no longer receive money from tax payers. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
But here in Washington, the state took a very different approach.
With the passage of SB 5912, the state legislature decided to increase funding for Take Charge, a contraceptive program which Planned Parenthood claims pays for the services of 70% of their clients. Since Take Charge was implemented in 2001, Planned Parenthood of Western Washington has seen their revenues increase from $5.5 million to over $27 million a year.
Take Charge was created with the goal of reducing the state's costs for live births. But during that same period, the state's costs for live births have risen 70%, from $198 million to over $340 million a year.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of women eligible for Take Charge in Washington (women within 200% of the federal poverty level) has increased from 294,000 in 2002 to 300,000 in 2009. During that same time period, the state's costs per birth have risen almost 25% from $6394 to $7952 per birth.
While some cost increases could be expected, neither of those factors explain the 70% increase in the state's costs. Nor do they fully explain why the increase dramatic rise in costs for lives births that coincide with the creation of the Take Charge program.
In fact, in the 7 year period prior to Take Charge being enacted (1993-2000), the state's annual costs for live births increased only 46% (from $135 million to $198 million).
Despite these facts, the state made assumptions about the impact of increased funding for Take Charge that allowed them to put it on the books as a net decrease in the overall state budget. Consequently, in the budget that was just passed, the state will direct more taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood but claim it as a spending reduction.
The willingness to ignore history in favor of rosy assumptions about the future might help explain how the state found itself with historic deficits in the first place.
In reality, this bill did serve a purpose. It allowed them to find a "savings" while increasing funding for a politically influential lobby. But it is not a purpose that serves the public well.
Moreover, knowing that these kinds of games were played on the balance sheet should cause us all to question whether the budget that was just passed will in any way resemble reality.