If you're anything like me, the first reaction you had to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's tuition tax (or as I'm calling it, the "Get the Hell Off My Lawn" tax) was, "Well, that's all fine and good. But what are city Republicans going to think of it?"
Well, wonder no longer, my friends. For Bob Hillen, the ever-affable chair of the city GOP, has sent out the following missive late last night.
Text below, and italicized for your convenience. Two things strike me as interesting about it.
1) Will union apprenticeship programs be subject to the tax?
2) On the central issue at stake here -- the question of whether non-profits should be taxed -- Hillen and many local Democrats are in agreement. Too bad that state law makes it almost impossible to challenge non-profits, thanks to a 1990s-era law sponsored by a noted Republican, Melissa Hart.
At a time when the Community College of Allegheny County is offering classes to the unemployed and our elected officials say they are trying to keep our young people and attract new people. Our city administration comes up with this counter-productive new tax.
The mayor calls this tax "The Fair Share Tax. He compares the tax to the fees that colleges charge their students, and believes that makes the tax acceptable to the students and their families. Many of the students and their families already find some of the fees they pay as “questionable”. It seems as we are back to the old idea, that two wrongs do make a right.
The administration says it doesn’t matter who is paying the students tuition, whether its being paid by the student, a parent, the government, or a scholarship. It’s also said that all post secondary education would be subject to the tax, from Trade Schools to Graduate Schools to non-credit night classes. Does this mean that the Building Trade’s (Unions) Apprenticeship classes would be taxed, and if so what do the Unions have to say? The Mayor may find that he maybe taxing people that he didn’t think would come under this burden.
In the past, the city has made financial decisions based on politics, instead of long term solutions. It is time for financial reality to be the priority. Until the mayor can step up his efforts to join with more municipalities throughout the state, and persuade the General Assembly to tax these "Non-profits" (i.e. Hospitals and similar places) that enjoy yearly "surpluses" (instead of what they should be called, PROFITS), the city is going to have to learn that you can’t spend, it if you don’t have it.
By the way, wasn’t the Casino supposed to take care of the city's financial troubles? I guess that's another story for a later date.