Doug Jones makes appeal to students on college affordability

November 28, 2017

By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter

Doug Jones will need the support of college students across the state to win the special election next month, and the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate made an appeal Monday night to organizers and college voters to get out the vote.

On a conference call with Alabama college students Monday night, which came after he made a campaign stop at the University of Alabama Birmingham earlier in the day, Jones appealed to would-be supporters on college affordability, access to education and healthcare.

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US Rep. Bradley Byrne introduces Innovation in Accreditation Act

October 3, 2017

By Brandon Moseley 
Alabama Political Reporter

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose, introduced legislation to allow for greater innovation in higher education on Monday.

Byrne’s bill, the Innovation in Accreditation Act would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to allow the Secretary of Education to waive requirements if accreditors can demonstrate the waiver is necessary to “enable an institution of higher education or program accredited by the agency or association to implement innovative practices.”

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Alabama Republican Assembly Demands Bentley Be Impeached

March 30, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, March 29, the Alabama Republican Assembly released a statement announcing that it has passed a resolution, calling for both Houses of the Legislature to impeach the embattled Governor Robert Bentley (R).

Alabama Republican Assembly President Jennifer Montrose said that the resolution was in response to the allegations of an affair between Governor Bentley and his top political aid, Mrs. Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
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Some in GOP Want Bentley Out

March 29, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

As first reported last week by the Alabama Political Reporter, State and Federal investigators are reportedly continuing their separate probes into the conduct of embattled Governor Robert Bentley (R) and the generous financial compensation he has paid over the course years to his top advisor, and alleged mistress, Mrs. Rebekah Caldwell Mason, as well as allegations that Gov. Bentley and Mrs. Mason are involved in a conspiracy to undermine and obstruct the prosecution against indicted Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) by ordering Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) Secretary Spencer Collier not to tell the truth to State prosecutors.
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Hillary Clinton at Miles College

February 29, 2016

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Saturday, February 26, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in the greater Birmingham area at a, “get out the vote” rally at Miles College, ahead of the Democratic Party Primary on Tuesday, March 1.

The former Secretary of State, former US Senator from New York, former First Lady of the United States, former First Lady of Arkansas, and Watergate Senate Democratic Counsel hopes that a strong showing in southern states will allow her to move ahead of her rival for the Democratic nomination, US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).
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Legislature Passes Fostering Hope Scholarship Act

April 30, 2015

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama House of Representatives passed the Fostering Hope Scholarship bill, SB157.  SB157 has already passed the Senate and is now headed to the Governor’s desk.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced in a statement that he supports the bill and will sign it.  Gov. Bentley wrote, “The Legislature has given final passage to SB157, establishing the Fostering Hope Scholarship. This program will offer children currently or formerly in Alabama’s Foster Care System the opportunity to receive a college education. We owe it to our children to give them every possible opportunity for a successful life, and this bill helps those in the foster care system prepare for success. I commend the Legislature, specifically bill sponsors Sen. Dick Brewbaker and Rep. Paul Lee, for passing this bill. After a full legal review, I intend to sign it into law.”
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Bentley Says that Education Should be About Getting a Job

September 9, 2013

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama’s unemployment has been dropping, but the numbers of the unemployed and underemployed remain stubbornly high in an economy that officially came out of recession four years ago.

Yet when Alabama Governor Robert Bentley came to Pell City on Thursday to meet with business leaders, Charles Browning (owner of Interstate Specialized Logistics) told the Governor that the business has had tremendous difficulty finding qualified labor.
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Democrats’ New Plan to Fund PACT Program Bailout

February 22, 2012

By Brandon Moseley and Susan Britt
Alabama Political Reporter 

Senate Minority Leader Roger Bedford (D) from Russellville and House Minority Leader Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden held a press conference Tuesday to announce their plan to fully fund the Pre-paid Affordable College Tuition (PACT) program.

Ford said, “The problem from day one that I have had with PACT where they entered into agreement with the judge that they would pay the 2010 tuition rates. To me that is unacceptable. I want to do 100 percent. I want to do what the state said they would do.”

“Rep. Ford and Sen. Bedford said that their bill will provide full funding for all PACT participants at current tuition rates by altering the Rolling Reserve Act that was passed last year by the Republican Supermajority. The Rolling Reserve Act requires that any revenue collected that exceeds the appropriation cap for the preceding year shall be used to repay the debt accrued in the Education Trust Fund Rainy Day Account. State law requires the Rainy Day Account to be paid off by Fiscal Year 2016. After 2016, any excess revenue will be deposited into a new account called the Education Trust Fund Budget Stabilization Account.”

“How will we do this? Once the Rainy Day Account is paid back we have to put the money in a savings account called the Budget Stabilization Fund,” said Ford. “There is no reason we need to have two savings accounts in the state of Alabama. Before that money goes into the Budget Stabilization Account we would money, directly after the Rainy Day Account is paid for, instead of the money going to the Budget Stabilization Account it would go directly to the PACT Program.”

The students that have already been receiving the 2010 tuition rates would be refunded the difference in what that have been receiving and what the should have been receiving.

Bedford and Ford’s bill would siphon off money that goes into the state emergency fund to make up for shortages in the PACT fund beginning in 2016.

Sen. Bedford said, “There are more than 40,000 families that are depending on this money. We made a promise to those families, and where I come from you keep your promises.”

Rep. Ford said, “The State of Alabama branded this program.  We put our seal on it, and we signed a contract with these families to guarantee their children an education. What is happening to the PACT program is a travesty of justice.  We need to keep our promise to the PACT families, and honor our commitment.”

 “We gave the Republicans a chance to lead on this issue and they failed. Now, we are stepping up,” said Ford

When the state came up with the PACT program idea, it was supposed to have cost the taxpayers nothing.  Families who wanted to fund their children’s future college were encouraged to invest their money in a tax deferred program managed by the State of Alabama.  If the money was later used for college tuition it was tax free. Everything went along well while the stock markets were doing well.  When the rising costs of tuition began to outpace stock market performance the bipartisan PACT Board headed by then State Treasurer Kay Ivey began investing in high risk/(theoretically) high reward sectors including emerging markets. 

When the economy went into recession, the stock markets plummeted and the amounts in the PACT fund dropped even faster.  Families who thought they had planned for college found that they did not have enough.  The families who invested in the plans claim it was sold to them as “pre-paid college tuition” NOT as a highly speculative, risky investment vehicle.  The state’s universities have refused to give the PACT families lower tuition rates and the families have demanded that the state make up their investment losses.  The PACT families then sued the state and the suit was settled guaranteeing that the state would pay all the families tuition at 2010 rates.  Some of the affected children will not be in college for several years and college tuition is expected to continue to climb.

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