An Open Letter to Kay Ivey – August 04, 2021

Governor Kay Ivey

600 Dexter Av.

Montgomery, AL 36130

Governor, What Will Be Your Legacy?

Dear Gov. Ivey,

Wouldn’t you like to see the Ivey Administration go into the history books for having accomplished something significant for the people of Alabama? So far, there’s not much there. You tried to replace our aging, overcrowded, and inhumane prisons, but the private option blew up on you. Besides the feds forced that issue on you, so you had to try something.

If I had to describe the Ivey Administration so far, it’s “Be nice and keep your head down”. I think your handling of the Covid-19 epidemic provides a good example. You decreed shutdowns and mask-wearing in a middle-of-the-road kind of way. Although you’ve promoted vaccinations, you didn’t make it a major priority; as a result, we rank last in the country. You supported and the legislature approved the legalization of medical marijuana; that’s important for some patients but not a game-changer for our state. You backed legalized gambling to raise some desperately needed revenue, but the bill died on the last day of the legislative session.

When I tried to recall from memory legislation past governors had fought for that really helped the average Alabamians, here’s what I came up with:

  • George Wallace – Developed the two-year college and trade school system
  • Jim Folsom Jr. – Brought Mercedes to Alabama, leading the way for Alabama to become a major automotive state
  • Robert Bentley – Initiated a nationally praised Pre-K program into our education system.

When I asked a friend of mine who has been heavily involved in state politics to list accomplishments of past Alabama Governors, he added:

  • Don Siegelman – Removed portable classrooms from Alabama schools
  • Bob Riley – Passed a billion-dollar bond issue to upgrade Alabama education facilities

He also sent me a recent piece on significant achievements by Alabama governors written by Steve Flowers who listed, in addition to Jim Folsom, Jr. re the automobile industry:

  • Bibb Graves – Brought Alabama education out of the dark ages by setting up separate budget and funding for Education. He established teachers’ colleges at Troy, Florence, Jacksonville, and Livingston and sent new education dollars to the University of Alabama and Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn University).
  • Jim Folsom, Sr. – Paved rural roads, so farmers could get their crops to market.

If you want Kay Ivey to be listed by future historians among Alabama Governors who had significant accomplishments, I have an idea for you and it’s low-hanging fruit – Expand Medicaid in Alabama. Now that the Supreme Court has for the third time denied efforts to overturn the ACA, the future of Medicaid Expansion is assured. This eliminates Republican concerns that funding would be cut off if Alabama adopted the program and the Supreme Court later ruled it unconstitutional.  Medicaid Expansion reflects Republican values and should be a no-brainer to support:

  • Republicans support job creation – The $4.9 billion that would flow into Alabama from the federal government over the next ten years is estimated to create 28,500 new Alabama jobs.
  • Republicans believe in work and not welfare – Because of income cutoff thresholds, many current Medicaid recipients will lose their health care if they go to work. With expanded Medicaid, they could take jobs that don’t offer health care benefits without losing Medicaid coverage.
  • Republicans want to get reelected – Expanded Medicaid will provide life-changing health insurance for over 300,000 Alabamians. These voters will certainly remember the Republicans who supported the legislation when they go to the polls.
  • Republicans want Alabama’s tax dollars used to help Alabamians – It makes no sense for Alabama to refuse the $4.9 billion, which includes funds from taxes paid by all the states. Alabama’s refusal to accept these funds means hard earned Alabama tax dollars are going to states like New York and California to provide health care for their citizens.

Thirty-nine states, including Republican states like Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky have passed Medicaid expansion. Apparently, Republicans from those states,  have decided it’s good politics and it’s good for their voters.

The only excuse left for Alabama Republicans not to expand Medicaid is that it was enacted by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by a Black President. That shouldn’t carry much weight when compared to $4.9 billion in revenue, 28,500 jobs, and the improved health and lives of 300,000 Alabamians.

Gov. Ivey, When I googled your name to get your address the promo said, “Governor Ivey is committed to raising the quality of life for the people of Alabama”. Fulfill your commitment and create a legacy for yourself in the process. Put the full weight of your office behind expanding Medicaid in Alabama.


Philip A. Watts

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