Gov. Perry,

I’m sure you don’t remember me, but we met some years back. I helped work on the campaign against hate crimes in Texas. When the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Bill was finally passed, I pushed his mother’s wheelchair into your office just before the bill was signed into law. I approached you privately to thank you for risking political damage by signing a bill I knew had been unpopular with your party. You teared up and whispered, “It’s the right thing to do.” So I know you have a heart.

I understand we come from very different political positions, but I know you cannot possibly be against food, shelter and basic health care for every Texan. I understand you hope to accomplish that through small government and not through large programs like the Affordable Care Act. But what do we do about the lives in the balance as liberals and conservatives struggle to define what our state and nation will look like. Must the weak suffer because the strong disagree?

By now you know the Rand Corporation’s analysis of 14 states saying that governors who oppose Medicaid expansion will cost their states $8.4 billion in federal funding and another billion in incentives for doctors to treat the poor. More importantly it is estimated that the actions of Governors like you will deprive millions of poor people of health care.

I understand that we have very different ideas of government, but neither of us wants people to suffer. However our differing sides struggle to forge the government of the future we have a current obligation toward those who have no vioce and who suffer in the meantime. I know you believe in a right to life, but what would that mean if the necessities of life were not also considered to be a right?

Please Governor, I know you have a heart. I have seen it. But, in our state, 12% of unemployed parents in a family of three cannot receive Medicaid coverage if they make over $2,290. Think of the misery you are unleashing on innocent people. The costs for health care coverage is estimated to be less than the cost our state will pay for uncompensated care. Please reconsider your refusal to receive federal dollars. We can disagree about how the state should be governed, but first let’s ensure that our fellow Texans have the necessities of a decent life. It may be hard for you politically, but as you said once before, “it’s the right thing to do.”


Jim Rigby,

Pastor, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church