The jury's still out on the other.
Only a handful of days remain in this legislative session, where the showdown has been set over which PACT-saving bill is best. The Senate's bill does not contain caps on college-tuition increases for PACT contract-holders. The House's bill, which passed 102-0 on Thursday, caps increases at 2.5 percent.
One of those bills must make it through the Legislature by the end of this session. If choosing, we'd select the House version because it addresses the fact that Alabama already is among the nation's worst states in ratings of affordability of higher education. That's a blight that can't continue.
We urge legislators — as strongly as possible — to hammer out a compromise next week when these bills are debated in committee.
Unfortunately, there's every reason to fear the worst from Montgomery. Granted, the Legislature found a way to pass an Education Trust Fund budget for 2010-11 that has protections for state-paid teachers. Given the dire warnings from legislators and educators alike, that was a pleasant surprise. It could have been much worse.
Nevertheless, the partisanship and special interests involved in the PACT dilemma create doubt over legislators' ability to reach a compromise on the House and Senate versions of the bill. Those legislators whose ears are bent by higher-education voices, particularly from Auburn and Tuscaloosa, are some of the loudest opponents of the House version.
If dissenters in the Senate such as Ted Little, D-Auburn, refuse to drop claims that the tuition-increase caps are unconstitutional, then the showdown over a PACT solution will boil down to a classic case of politics vs. doing what's best for Alabamians.
If politics wins, then no PACT bill will make it out of this legislative session.
If doing what's best for Alabamians wins, then these legislators will drop their intractability, find a suitable compromise on the main sticking points and pass a bill that all parties can live with.
Everyone involved — PACT families, the state, the universities — must give a little for this to work. That message has to be front and center when the House and Senate versions are in committee next week.
There are times when legislators have an opportunity to show their true mettle, to display equal parts human compassion and elected leadership. This is one of those times.
If a PACT bill doesn't emerge from this session, it'll say a great deal about those who toil on Goat Hill. And it won't be kind.