As I listened to civil rights giant Vernon Jordan deliver keynote remarks at our Texas Legacy luncheon this month, I reflected on the recent challenges Texans have endured.
Hurricane Harvey dropped an unprecedented amount of water on Houston and Southeast Texas. The death toll and the scale of the destruction was hard to comprehend.
In some ways Harvey was an unusual, equal-opportunity offender because it also flooded homes and businesses in wealthier areas of Houston. Our Texas Legacy honoree, former Houston Mayor Bill White, had his own home flooded.
But our fellow Texans who have the least stand to suffer the most. From housing to transportation, Harvey’s financial impact on low-income Texans could be equivalent to another recession. We must all stay active and vigilant to ensure an equitable recovery.
Elected officials in Washington are adding fuel to the fire for Texans, especially in the area of health care. Congress members’ failure to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program leaves nearly 400,000 Texas kids at risk.
The Trump Administration recently moved to cut payments to health insurers that help low-income people afford health coverage. This move will needlessly and significantly raise some premiums for 2018 and increase costs to the federal government while benefiting virtually no one. Texas already has the most uninsured people in America, and this will make it worse.
What gives me hope, then? Certainly the resilience and gumption of Texans. From the heroic first responders and tireless friends and neighbors helping Harvey victims to the non-profits spreading the word about Affordable Care Act enrollment because the government won’t, Texans continue to give me hope.
Will the compassion and dedication of hard-working Texans translate into policies that reflect our shared values? That is the test.
As Vernon Jordan said, “The compassionate, practical, necessary leadership—and solutions—will not come from the top down. Those things will come from places like this, from organizations like [CPPP], and from leaders like Bill White —from people working on the ground to make their communities better.”
As the water recedes, let us move forward together as Texans and ask all of our elected officials to practice compassionate, practical, necessary leadership.