The New Year brings new and exciting developments. Will we have a life-changing overhaul of our health care system? Will it cause major changes in the makeup of Congress? And of course, how will our elected officials find new ways to extract money from us for their misguided ways?
The latest target for big city mayors is college students. Some mayors feel that they’ve exhausted all means of raising taxes to balance their budgets. However, since their cities are largely controlled by municipal unions, they are unwilling to adjust their employee payroll by cutting personnel, health care benefits or pension costs. Thus they seek new revenue sources to exploit. What better revenue source than young adults who don’t vote in the local area?
Taxing people who don’t vote locally has been a consistent theme for municipalities. Outrageous hotel taxes are a commonly-used ploy. When you book a hotel, you’re usually given the room rate, but somehow they always seem to leave out the 18% or so hotel tax and the various add-ons for special municipal projects. Very few travelers base their travel plans on the extra costs, but certainly feel a little nauseous when paying the bill. Other taxes, such as additional charges for car rentals from the local airport, are tried and true ways of soaking anyone other than the local constituents.
Some cities have already extorted payments from colleges, but now they want to establish a tax tied to each enrolled student. The three leaders in this movement appear to be Boston, Providence and Pittsburgh. Boston and Providence wish to institute a flat fee per semester of $100 to $150 per student. Pittsburgh wants to charge 1% of the annual tuition, which results in a tax of between $27 for community college and $409 for Carnegie-Mellon each year. Boston and Providence place an interesting twist on the scheme by exempting public colleges in favor of taxing private ones.
The rationale of public officials for increasing taxes is limited only by the imagination of mankind. Providence Mayor David Cicilline offered this gem, “It’s really about a shared commitment to the well-being of your community that you’re part of. Everyone should be doing their part and coming to the table.” It seems the mayor should attend one of these colleges so he learns never to end his sentence with a preposition.