Mayor’s “Fair Share” tax an unfair burden on students

Tartan Board Nov 16, 2009

Mayor Ravenstahl has been re-elected, and now he wants Carnegie Mellon students to pay more than $400 extra each year because the city of Pittsburgh needs to balance its budget.

This one percent tax targets “post-secondary tuition,” which is basically any college student in Pittsburgh, and because Carnegie Mellon students already have high tuition costs, under this budget measure, we’d be paying the highest tax.
A large portion of the funds would help cover higher pension costs — costs that college students do not benefit from — and a little of it would help keep neighborhood branches of the Carnegie Libraries from closing. To justify this tax, the mayor has said that “the city can no longer provide city services to those who are not paying their fair share.” However, we students do contribute to Pittsburgh’s economy — we go out to eat at restaurants and we spend money at local and chain retailers.

Mayor Ravenstahl also said that “this is a fair way to share the burden of paying for public services.” Clearly something isn’t fair. Why should the tax be based on the tuition of an institution; are Carnegie Mellon students the biggest freeloaders of the city? Carnegie Mellon students are already burdened with the large amount of tuition we pay, and this only adds to our troubles. This added price could prevent prospective students from coming to Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh would be missing out on some of the best talent from around the world. Carnegie Mellon University was just named a “Best Neighbor” to the city of Pittsburgh because of our “positive impact” on the community, including “commercial and residential activities.” Maybe the mayor missed that issue of The Tartan.

Instead of taxing our education, perhaps the mayor should embark on a plan to bring more people to the city, and encourage college students to stay after graduating. Creating more taxes on the population of college students will only drive people away.