Welcome to a new feature of the Foundry, Outside the Beltway, where we will semi-regularly post state and local stories of either conservatism at its best, or liberalism at its worst. Today, we start off with liberalism at its worst.
Providence, Rhode Island Mayor David Cicilline wants to tax college students $150 every semester to have the privilege of studying in his city. Because the mismanaged city is running a $17 million deficit, they need to find new money, rather than new savings. And the best new money is to shakedown ramen-noodle-eating students whose presence in Providence actually creates a local economy.
As the AP article points out, cities often float these types of measures in the hope of extorting large sums of money from the actual university, who then indirectly pass it on to the students. But as Tony Pals, spokesman for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, points out, this move is unprecedented: “The bottom line is, a tax like this has never gone into effect.”
According to Daniel Egan, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island, on top of the jobs the four universities in Providence create, the four schools generate over $1 billion a year in economic activity.
Apparently, students at Rhode Island College, a state school in the city, and the Providence campus of the University of Rhode Island would be exempt, because this policy is more about fleecing the “rich kids.” As Mayor Cicilline points out: “Everyone should be doing their part and coming to the table.” Except of course whomever Mayor Cicilline chooses is exempt.
One of those “rich kids,” Susette Holman, a freshman at Johnson & Wales University originally from New York, says her mother works 14 hour days, 7 days a week to make ends meet and send her to college: “I have three sisters at home, so how’s she going to be able to provide an extra tuition fee?”
Is the city of Providence on your list of school visits with your high school son or daughter this year? Should it be?