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Click Your Remote Control

Have you ever heard a newscaster promote or “tease” a story and then you’re disappointed when the story turns out to be far less interesting than advertised? The best stations and reporters try to avoid that kind of over-promising and under-delivering because it’s a subtle form of deception that hurts their credibility and viewership in the long run. Fortunately, you have a remote control so you have the power to take action if you hate the hype.

But, where is your clicker when the hype comes from the state? What do you do then? Case in point is the PACT program. It was (and is) a well intentioned program to help parents send their children to college. But, when the economy crashed and university tuition kept rising, the PACT fund couldn’t keep up.

Understandably, families who bought into the hype that PACT was a “sure thing” are demanding that state lawmakers transfer millions into the PACT program to make it whole so they can send their kids to college, as planned. By the way, there is no such rescue even possible for other parents who, after reading the fine print or not wanting to put their faith in a state program, decided to invest their money in other types of college funds. Those funds also took a huge hit when stocks crashed.

The House was eager to go along with the PACT parents. Calling it a moral obligation, they voted unanimously this week to commit 235 million dollars from the Education Trust Fund to PACT. They also voted to put a cap on how much universities can raise tuition for students in the PACT program.

Unfortunately, that could create a two-tiered tuition structure at our state schools – one level for students in the protected PACT program and a much higher level for other in-state students because their tuition wouldn’t be capped. It seems absurd to think that families on the same street could pay different tuition at identical state schools, but the House may have just opened that door. So far, the Senate is refusing to go along.

The bottom line is, parents who have tried to do right by their children, whether they put money in PACT or in other investments, stand to get hurt. There seems to be no good or fair solution for all involved. If only it were as simple as clicking the remote.


One Response to “Click Your Remote Control”

  1. Scott, you are right there seems to be no good solution, but there is a fair solution out there that the legislature wouldn’t take up. Kay Ivey submitted a solution in December that the universities could have partnered with and not had tuition caps. They over-played their hand and got drummed. Primarily, the arrogance from Alabama and Auburn wouldn’t allow it to happen.

    So guess what? They ended up getting the shaft by their good buddy Paul Hubbert. Had Robert Witt, Malcolm Potera and Jay Gouge embraced being part of a creative solution instead of digging in their collective heels, they would not be in the situation they are in.

    Serves them right. Their schools have profited the most off of the PACT program. When circumstances called for collaboration and shared sacrifice, with the potential for a win-win scenario, the university poobahs stiffened up and stood in the schoolhouse door against PACT families.

    So screw their arrogance. They could have gotten at least half a loaf, but they wanted the whole bakery. So Hubbert was only too happy to hand them crumbs. Admit it boys, Hubbert ran circles around you.

    When they have to lay off two layers of mid-level administrators to help make up for cuts, maybe they’ll not be so pompous and obstinate the next time the state asks them to help out the citizens they are designed to serve.