Warren Throckmorton

Contrary to a widely circulated report in Tuesday's Washington Post, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican vice-presidential nominee, did not slash funding for a program supporting teen mothers.

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane reported that “Palin Slashed Funding for Teen Moms.” The far-left Huffington Post repeated the story the next day, and it was off and running. To support this contention, Kane produced the 2008 Alaska budget, along with Governor Palin’s line-item reductions. Kane said, “Palin reduced funding for Covenant House Alaska by more than 20 percent, cutting funds from $5 million to $3.9 million.” Sounds like a reduction, right?

Not so. Here’s the background.

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 Covenant's services, Kane focused on this particular aspect of its work. His focus was not a surprise, given the revelation that Governor Palin’s teen daughter is five months pregnant. Covenant House requested additional state funding to help expand housing capacity. The legislature agreed that expansion was a worthy objective and allocated the substantial sum of $5 million in the proposed budget.

In Alaska, the governor is allowed to reduce budget allocations in the service of sound management and fiscal accountability. It is true that Mrs. Palin trimmed the proposed $5 million allocation to $3.9 million. However, the Washington Post did not tell readers that the state of Alaska's 2008 allocation was three times more than Covenant House Alaska received from all government grants in 2007. According to records posted 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 a massive influx of support for troubled teens.

Thus, the Post report is misleading on three counts. One, the funding in question went to an organization which provides many different services, including work with teen mothers. There was no funding at issue exclusively earmarked for pregnant teens. No funds directly allocated to teen moms were slashed.


Warren Throckmorton

Warren Throckmorton, PhD is an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College and fellow for psychology and public policy with the Center for Vision & Values.