Gruesome Twosome: Sanders’ Tax Plan And His Wife’s Debt-Ridden Tenure At Burlington College

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Feb 18, 2016 12:40 PM
Gruesome Twosome: Sanders’ Tax Plan And His Wife’s Debt-Ridden Tenure At Burlington College

I’ve mentioned in a previous post about Sanders’ tax plan, which is aimed to pay for his $30 trillion bag of goodies. It’s dubious whether his 73+percent tax rate would be able to sustain the long-term revenues needed to fund this agenda, though pretty much everyone’s tax rates would increase under a Sanders administration, so the burden is going to more or less distributed. One of those ventures, single-payer health care, was nixed in his home state of Vermont for being too expensive. Now, we have Jane Sanders’ tenure at Burlington College, where she plunged the small, private liberal arts school into a massive financial hole.

Sanders' wife assumed the presidency of Burlington College in 2004, where expansion was at the top of her agenda. One of her priorities was to pretty much build a new campus. The school secured millions in loans to buy a new plot of land from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. The diocese was anxious to sign off on the deal since they needed money to pay for the various sex abuse-related lawsuits they faced at the time.

Burlington would pay off the debt would be paid off with a two-pronged strategy of increasing enrollment and fundraising efforts. It turned out to be a complete fiasco, which threatened the school’s accreditation (via Politico):

The college adopted a plan to offer more majors and graduate-degree programs, renovate its campus and grow enrollment a couple of years later. And in 2010, Sanders and the board went further:She brokered a deal to buy a new plot of lakefront land with multiple buildings from the Roman Catholic Diocese to replace the college’s cramped quarters in a buildingthat used to house a grocery store.The college used $10 million in bonds and loans to pay for the campus, according to reports by the Burlington Free Press.

“People are worried about student debt, but this is one of the reasons that college costs go up,” Holt said. “Because every college wants a new campus — and students get charged for that.”

Sanders and the board of trustees hoped alumni donations and expanding the student body would help pay off the debt. But enrollment in the years that followed didn’t rise much, and fundraising efforts fell short

Jane Sanders resigned in 2011, and much of the land she bought for the school was sold off to pay off debts:

In 2015, Burlington College sold most of the lakefront property acquired under Jane Sanders’ tenure, keeping 6 acres and the main building where it holds classes. As the sale was being negotiated, the college was $11.4 million in debt and its interim president told independent newspaper Seven Days that Burlington College had $300,000 in unpaid bills — many of them more than 90 days old — and wasn’t in a position to meet the payments on its debt for the year. Enrollment has not grown as prior presidents hoped, and the college recently froze tuition, then announced it will reduce it.

The problems at Burlington College, especially with the school’s accreditation, left students wondering whether their degrees would be worth much when they graduated, several former students told POLITICO. Burlington College did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

So, it appears the Sen. Bernie and Jane Sanders are quite the gruesome twosome when it comes to debt. Jane’s tenure at Burlington College appears to be marred by a college expansion that turned out to be a total disaster; Bernie’s initiatives could push the nation into bankruptcy–what a couple.