Letter in Opposition to Tax Bill
President Liebowitz sent the following letter to Massachusetts' congressional delegation, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
As president of Brandeis University, I am writing to express my grave concerns about the deeply negative impact the tax bill currently working its way through the U.S. Congress will have on colleges and universities, the millions of students they educate, and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they provide.
Brandeis is a highly competitive research university with more than 7,500 students, faculty, and staff members. Last year, we received $60 million in outside research funding that helps to advance knowledge in science, health, business, and the humanities. We are one of the largest employers in Waltham, Massachusetts. For the nearly 70 years since our founding, we have served as a source of steady, well-paid employment for blue-collar workers as well as PhD-trained researchers.
The tax bill under consideration by the Senate threatens the ability of our university, and the ability of colleges and universities across the country, to continue to provide our nation with the jobs and the knowledge creation that has made the U.S. higher-education system the envy of the world.
Brandeis is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), composed of 62 of the nation’s most prominent research institutions, representing the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for academic research. We join the AAU in its strong objections to the following provisions of the bill:
- The proposed elimination of graduate-student tuition remission, the student-loan interest deduction, and employer-provided educational assistance, which will make higher education out of reach for many students.
- The elimination of state and local tax deductions, which will further discourage state investment in public colleges and universities, harming the ability of our public institutions to fulfill their educational missions.
- The excise tax on certain private university endowments, which will harm institutions’ ability to support student-aid packages, student services such as career counseling, cutting-edge medical research, and other vital services, and which is also an unprecedented “phantom tax” on donors.
- The $3 billion in government savings this tax would generate — less than 0.005 percent of projected federal spending — which would inflict further harm on students and their families.
In a letter about the tax bill, AAU President Mary Sue Coleman stated, “Perhaps the worst aspect of the pending tax legislation for students, research universities, and our nation’s future is the additional debt that we and future generations will bear.” This tax bill will damage our nation’s educational infrastructure at a time when other nations are investing more heavily than ever in research and education. It will hamper our students’ ability to compete in an ever more globalized economy. I strongly urge you to reject this damaging bill.
Ronald D. Liebowitz
President, Brandeis University