Will the Alabama PACT Board do the Right Thing?
I just posted best wishes to everyone who is going to Montgomery this morning for the Alabama Prepaid Affordable College Tuition board meeting. I am grateful for the assistance and support we have received from the community here as we've struggled to deal with the many issues surrounding this fiasco.
Many opinions have been offered on it. I agree with those who have argued:
PACT participants are contract holders, and the only acceptable outcome is for those contracts to be honored.
I hope someone will be able to get a first-hand account, photos, or videos from the meeting. I will post an update here as soon as I have one.
A protracted political fight over whether or not the contracts will be honored is not in the best interest of the people of Alabama. I hope the board will clear this issue up at the meeting, and that the Legislature will follow up quickly as appropriate.
A big part of the problem here is that there has not been enough transparency for many years. That makes it look as though the people who know what is in the portfolio are hiding something. That they are scared for people to find out what they've been doing with the money. That's not the impression they need to be giving, if their goal is to stabilize the program as quickly as possible.
Since there isn't a huge shortfall in the next few years, the sensible thing to do is:
- Find a way to bridge the funding gap and do it quickly.
- State unequivocally that all PACT contracts will be honored, and state it in such a way that it is clear that this is the consensus of both the board and the state government.
- Find a responsible person who hasn't been in the middle of this up to now to look at the PACT portfolio and start disclosing information. That's the way to restore confidence in the program and ensure that people do not panic.
Given the things I'm reading here and there, I think this Board meeting is absolutely critical. The board can settle people down and give the Legislature time to work this out. Or the board can make things a lot worse. It all depends on what they say and do.
Regardless of the outcome of the board meeting, there is still plenty of work to do on this for anyone who wants to do it. I am planning to continue devoting a significant amount of my research and writing time to the issue. I will also continue to reach out to other people who are working on it.
Once we see what happens tomorrow and do what we can to shine a spotlight on the meeting itself, I’ll explain my next steps. I will update my PACT page, or add additional pages to the sidebar, as necessary. If I am able to uncover any new information, I will post it here and at Left in Alabama.
I’m back to my 8-5 life now. That means back to blogging mainly in the evenings. I won’t be able to respond to communication or turn out posts as quickly as I have been for the last 10 days or so, but I am still paying attention to this. Still trying to answer many of the questions we’ve raised.
I am hoping for a large crowd and a good decision at the meeting.