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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Kay Ivey: Legislature Must Act to Save PACT


State Treasurer Kay Ivey said she's looking to the state Legislature to pass a bill or a strongly worded resolution to solidify its intent to support the state's prepaid affordable college tuition, or PACT, program.

She said at a press conference Wednesday morning that without such action the board that oversees the PACT has few options to address the 48,000 active contracts that it is obligated to pay.

Legislatively speaking there have been six bills floated during the 2009 session to fix the PACT program. The program lost half of its value because of the downturn in the economy though a recent uptick has grown the fund from about $435 million in December to $470 million to date.

The only piece of legislation still alive with two days left in the session (this Thursday and Friday) is a bill sponsored by state Rep. Craig Ford, D-Gadsden, that would take funds from Alabama Trust Fund to shore up the program. In its existing form, the bill would only save people who established their contracts before 1995. All contracts drafted after 1995, apparently had language inserted into them that said the money paid into the program would be invested in the stock market and subject to the risks of such investments. The Ford bill is ready for debate by the full Senate, according to Ivey.

Ivey said the PACT board could not pick and choose which group of people will be saved and which group won't. She also said it was inappropriate to use the Alabama Trust Fund as a funding mechanism.

"Well have to wait and see how the final version of that bill comes out," she said. "It needs to be amended and substituted."

Ivey said she has assurances from Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom and Senate Finance and Taxation Chairman Roger Bedford that something is in the works, but what she could not say.

She said if a bill is not passed, she is asking legislators to at least pass a strongly worded resolution of a commitment to keep the program running because it could be important in the three lawsuits that are pending against the PACT Board.

-- posted by Markeshia Ricks

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Location: Montgomery, AL, United States

South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.

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