Dear Wittenberg Community,
The Congressional Ways and Means Committee has released tax reform legislation, H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Job Act. If enacted, the bill would be harmful to higher education in Ohio and across the nation, particularly to our private colleges and universities. The bill proposes the elimination of many benefits and new tax penalties for our sector. Higher education leaders and organizations in Ohio and across the country are speaking out against certain provisions in the proposed legislation.
I have shared my concerns directly with Congressman Warren Davidson's office and will continue to reach out to the appropriate entities to have our voice heard. In my communication to the Congressman's office, I noted that provisions to eliminate private activity bonds (loans through OHEFC), historic tax credits, and new market tax credits will raise the cost of maintaining and improving our facilities. That will, in turn, make it more difficult to evolve and adapt our programs to meet the future needs of our students, the state of Ohio, and the nation.
Additionally, I noted that changes in the rules for employer contributions for continuing education and tuition remission will drive talented employees out of higher education. These have been important tools in our compensation strategies. The changes will also make graduate studies far more expensive, again driving out talent and also taking away opportunity.
Also on the table is a proposed tax on endowments. This will impact a small number of schools, but it is a transfer from the schools to the government. I do not think it will be better spent on higher education in Washington.
I have urged Congressman Davidson to reject these harmful provisions. We need tax reform, but harming higher education and our collective future is not good policy.
The bill is expected to be finalized in committee today and then brought to the House floor for approval the week of November 13. I am monitoring this situation and will report back as needed.
Michael L. Frandsen, Ph.D.
President, Wittenberg University