Governor Bentley is speaking out on the state’s economy. This is after the State Supreme Court ruled against a settlement for the Pre-paid Affordable College Tuition plan (PACT) and the governor ordered across the board cuts in spending.
The PACT settlement was approved last year by a Montgomery County judge, but was recently voided by the high court. It would have frozen PACT payments at 2010 tuition levels, requiring parents to pay the difference. Instead, the program will still be required to pay full tuition, but where the money will come from is still up in the air.
“We’re right now just reviewing the decision of the courts,” said Governor Bentley. “We’re going to continue to work with the parents and the legislature and try to find a solution.”
In trying to keep with the state’s constitutional requirement to have a balanced budget, the governor ordered 10.6% proration.
It will require every state agency, except the courts and Department of Corrections, to cut back.
“The DOC could not sustain any cuts without releasing prisoners. We’re just not ready to release any prisoners,” said Bentley.
Still despite budget cuts and PACT’s financial uncertainty, there is a bright spot. In just the past four months Alabama’s unemployment rate has dropped two full percentage points, and is now a half percentage point lower than the national average.
In 2011, the state was able to announce 17,000 future jobs coming to the state.