On Tuesday I presented an amendment to reform the Texas Budget by increasing the abstinence education budget by 28% ($1.5 million) which was shifted from the HIV/STD Awareness Education fund, reducing it by less than 1% of the program’s $191.4 million annual budget.
My office has received a large amount of correspondence over this decision, and I want to make sure the record is set straight on what the amendment actually does and what motivated this decision in the first place.
First, this amendment is in no way an “Abstinence Only” policy. Innovative programs can and should combine abstinence education with HIV/STD awareness programs into a comprehensive format. I strongly believe that the funds were disproportionate in the way they were previously allotted. A very small shift could go a very long way in helping to educate Texans on how to protect themselves from HIV and other STD’s that are harming the people of Texas.
There have been reports that we defunded HIV/STD programs, when all we did was shift less than 1% of their budgets toward a program that will help curb the same diseases. It should also be noted that that this takes no money from HIV/STD Treatment funding, which appears to be the most common misconception the public has regarding this amendment.
With Texas still being the 3rd highest HIV/STD rate, the effectiveness of related Awareness Programs should be put into question. On the surface it would appear to be a larger failure than Abstinence Education with 191 million dollars spent on HIV/STD Awareness annually. If we are to truly solve the issues of HIV/STDs and unwanted teen pregnancies we must be willing to try other options rather than throwing tax payer monies at the standard and usually failing methods.
This amendment was proposed and debated openly, showing that our legislative system works. With both sides of the issue clearly expressing their positions, the elected representatives voted for what they felt was best for Texas. I want to thank all the members who expressed their concerns and a special thanks to the members who supported me in this contentious vote. I stood in support of the values of my district and will continue to do so in my future votes.