Along with choosing a president, Arizona voters will decide in November’s election if a 1-cent sales tax should be permanent. The higher sales tax is projected to raise about $1 billion annually starting in 2014 — 80 percent of which would go to education, with the rest funding human services and infrastructure projects. But anti-choice organizations are asking people to vote against the measure because it could potentially fund Planned Parenthood:
Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said her concern is the initiative sets aside 10 percent of the first $1 billion raised for a new “family stability and self-sufficiency fund.”
Herrod contends that language would allow a future governor, who would control those funds, to any organization which can provide for services. And that, she said, opens the door to Planned Parenthood getting a share.
She acknowledged none of the funds could actually finance elective abortions. But Herrod said any money that goes to Planned Parenthood for any purpose frees up other cash — cash that can be used for abortions.
In the ballot initiative for the tax increase, “basic needs” are defined as stopping hunger and homelessness, helping to prevent family domestic violence, and providing child care. Herrod is unconvinced, saying that a future governor could construe “other community services that lead to family stability and self-sufficiency” as including some of the services provided by Planned Parenthood.
Republicans in Arizona successfully pushed through a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in the state, but a federal judge temporarily stopped the law from going into effect in July. Beyond the argument over Planned Parenthood funding, Ann-Eve Pedersen, organizer of the Quality Education and Jobs initiative, said anti-choice advocates like Herrod are looking for a nonexistent controversy in the sales tax increase. The initiative aims to improve education, Pedersen said, especially for children living at or below the poverty line. “If you’ve got a kid coming in and they’re hungry, they’re not coming in ready to learn,” she said.