An intense debate has gripped Pittsburgh and the higher education universe since Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced a plan to tax tuition at colleges and universities located in the city. The Mayor is looking to use the schools in a small way to attack a large budget deficit and argues that the tax is such a small part of a family’s cost for higher education that it won’t affect anything (the old “tax” the rich idea – “it is so small it won’t affect them”).
The tax proposal would really hit elite research universities such as Carnegie Mellon and U of Pittsburgh with their higher tuition rates. But is the Mayor attacking the goose that lays the golden eggs? Pittsburgh’s higher education cluster is a strength that has anchored the city for decades and helped prevent it from becoming Detroit. Why not tax the Steelers?
Today (December 16) is the vote, and according to some commentators, early reports of easy passage may be untrue. The universities have protested mightily and it appears they may be changing some minds.
Higher education plays a central role in America’s entrepreneurial and innovative strength, sustained economic growth, and increasing standards of living. The sector is undergoing great stress right now and the events and policies in leading centers such as Pittsburgh and California (where some old school protesting of tuition hikes are taking place) will tell us a great deal about what is to come. Where do you think this is all going?