Berea College feeling effects of changes to tax reform bill
Tax reform has made it past Congress. The House first passed the measure on Tuesday, but the Senate Parliamentarian ruled three provisions violated Senate rules and must be removed. The removal of the provisions means the House had to approve the bill again on Wednesday. The Senate passed it Wednesday also.
One of the provisions removed from the bill would have prevented Berea College from having to pay a new 1.4% tax on private university endowments. Berea College typically enrolls low-income students and does not charge tuition.
On Wednesday, Berea College said it is disappointed in the development. The college issued a statement saying, "Berea College uses its entire endowment to educate students who could not otherwise afford to attend college, serving them on a no-tuition basis. We agree that there need to be incentives for schools to make higher education accessible to all students, but it seems so unfortunate that the political strife over tax reform in our country will result in greater difficulty for colleges seeking to serve low-income students."
Before the bill passed, Congressman Andy Barr spoke to the House of Representatives about the effect the bill could have on the college.
"It is unfortunate that they put partisan politics ahead of ensuring that students, many of whom are low-income and first-generation college students, at work-study colleges would continue to be able to receive tuition-free education," Said Barr. "I ask for your commitment to work with me to permanently exempt work-study colleges from the excise tax on endowment income in a timely manner, in the tax extenders, or another appropriate legislative vehicle as soon as possible."
Senator Mitch McConnell issued a statement as well, saying "I’m frankly mystified that the Democrats stripped this provision from the bill. They didn’t have to, but they did. Democrats’ fanatical opposition to the tax bill reached such hysterical heights that Bernie Sanders proudly led the charge to deliberately harm Berea College, which offers free tuition to less fortunate families. When it came to crunch time, every Democrat in the Senate voted with liberal ideologues rather than stand with working people and their children. As a result of the Democrats’ actions, I’m working with my colleagues in the Kentucky delegation to protect Berea and its students.”
The bill now awaits the signature of President Donald Trump.