Republican Claims of Supporting Women's Health Program are Laughable

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Yesterday, State Representative Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) took issue with claims by Rick Perry and other Texas Republicans that it is Democrats (particularly the Obama administration), not Republicans in the State Capitol, that are trying to kill the Women’s Health Program which has served over 130,000 low income Texas women, providing cancer screenings and other basic health services, but not abortions.

Rep. Villarreal said, “The idea that Texas Republicans have supported the Women’s Health Program is laughable. It has no connection to reality.  Anyone who paid attention to the last legislative session knows that Texas Republicans consistently demonstrated their hostility towards the Women’s Health Program and other family planning programs. Republican-dominated committees in the House and Senate blocked ten different bills to continue the Women’s Health Program.” (emphasis mine)

Villarreal’s staff provided a handy list of the many proposed bills from the 2011 Legislative Session that would have continued the WHP:

  • HB 419 by Rep. Villarreal: blocked in House Human Services Committee after a hearing
  • HB 1255 by Rep. Strama: no hearing in House Public Health Committee
  • HB 1478 by Rep. Woolley: blocked in House Public Health Committee after a hearing
  • HB 2299 by Rep. Coleman: delayed in the House Human Services until the last month of the legislative session, and then blocked in the Local and Consent Calendars Committee
  • HB 3256 by Rep. Strama: no hearing in House Public Health Committee
  • SB 325 by Sen. Van de Putte: no hearing in Senate Health and Human Services Committee
  • SB 575 by Sen. Van de Putte: blocked in Senate Health and Human Services Committee after a hearing
  • SB 585 by Sen. Watson: blocked in Senate Health and Human Services Committee after a hearing
  • SB 1138 by Rep. Rodriguez: blocked in House Public Health Committee after a hearing
  • SB 1854 by Sen. Deuell: delayed in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee until the last month of the session, and then blocked on the Intent Calendar

While the session was dominated by budget cutting measures, Republican legislators were particularly zealous in trying to cut funding to the WHP (a program which has saved the state “$20 million in general revenue after accounting for the state’s $3 million investment.”).  

In fact, no program faced more cuts during the budget debate on the House floor.  In all, House Republicans passed seven amendments to cut WHP funding:

  • An amendment by Rep. Weber to cut $9.3 million
  • An amendment by Rep. Christian to cut $6.6 million
  • An amendment by Rep. Bohac to cut $14.4 million
  • An amendment by Rep. Murphy to cut $1.4 million
  • An amendment by Rep. Miller to cut $21.2 million
  • An amendment by Rep. Zedler to cut $1.8 million
  • An amendment by Rep. Laubenberg to cut $9.2 million

Funding for the program dropped from $111 million in 2010-11 to $37 million in 2012-13.  “The Legislative Budget Board estimates that the reduction in funding will result in 20,000 additional unplanned births and an additional $98 million in state general revenue expenditures during the current biennium.”

Thanks to Mike Villarreal and his staff for responding to Rick Perry’s outrageous claims.

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