When President Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress enacted a new tax on large private college endowments, it was widely interpreted in part as political payback by Republicans for higher education's leftist tilt. Now, though, the Democratic Party's nominee for governor of Massachusetts, Jay Gonzalez, who served in the administration of Democrat Deval Patrick, wants to levy a similar tax. WBUR reports:
His proposal would levy a 1.6 percent tax on private colleges with endowments in excess of $1 billion.
The tax would currently apply to nine schools in Massachusetts: Harvard University, MIT, Williams College, Boston College, Amherst College, Wellesley College, Boston University, Smith College and Tufts University.
Harvard and MIT would pay $563 million and $210 million, respectively, under the plan, according to the Gonzalez campaign.
In total, the campaign estimates the tax would generate $1 billion a year.
Polls show Republican incumbent Charlie Baker favored to win in November's election, so this proposal remains hypothetical. Yet the larger these college endowments get, the more tempting it becomes for politicians of both parties to tap them for spending. It's somewhat similar to proposals to tax millionaires, in that it involves a majority getting together to tax an unpopular minority.
The day after Gonzalez released his proposal, Harvard said it had raised a total of $9.6 billion in its recently concluded five-year capital campaign.