Thursday, February 18, 2010

Taxing tuition: The wrong choice for municipalities

Recently, I met with Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rob Wonderling to discuss a number of topics dealing with economic growth, education and the Philadelphia region. Rob offered some great insights into higher and continuing education's role in the region's economic success.

Rob and I discussed the issue of municipalities taxing higher education tuition, which surfaced in Pittsburgh earlier this year. Thankfully, the measure there never moved forward. However, it does create future concern not only for students and schools, but also for the economic viability of cities and regions across Pennsylvania.

Along with Villanova president Rev. Peter M. Donohue and Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of Citizens Bank-Eastern PA/NJ/DE, and 2010-11 chair of the CEO Council for Growth, Human Capital Working Group, Rob authored a great op-ed for the Philadelphia Business Journal weighing in on the topic (note, requires a subscription to view full story).

The op-ed, "Higher ed is too important to harm with tax," outlines why a tuition tax is the wrong choice for Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania.

To quote directly from the op-ed:
"Higher education is essential to the economic health of the region, accounting for as much as 6 .9 percent of its economic activity, including spending by visitors and capital construction projects.
Colleges and universities also contribute to our quality of life, presenting lectures, exhibits and plays. Some provide police protection beyond campus borders. Students and faculty volunteer their time and talent to community organizations."

At Peirce College, we believe that higher education is crucial to moving beyond economic hardship, creating a skilled and credentialed workforce, attracting new and better employment opportunities and creating a sustainable economy. While it's important to find the funds necessary to run government services and help make up budget shortfalls, taxing tuition would have an adverse impact that lasts well beyond a down economy.