Tuition Increases and Tax Increases
Taxes and tax increases are just that even when mislabeled or hidden.
Take the case of the tuition increases just approved by the Washington legislature.
These increases are, compared to previous years, a tax increase targeted at a specific class of Washington residents. Those who are paying tuition to attend a public college or university:
The Legislature has approved tuition increases at all schools: 7 percent at the University of Washington and Washington State University; 6 percent at Western Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Central Washington University and The Evergreen State College; and 5 percent at the community and technical colleges.
Sure, it is appropriate for folks to pay for the services they use and, by that light, students should be paying full bore for their tuition. But, in the past, the legislature has funded significant portions of this out of the general fund so any increase or decrease is essentially a transfer of tax burden from the population as a whole to a specific class.
This in itself is not a bad thing. What is bad is that the legislature actually hid a general fund revenue tax in the tuition increase:
A portion of new tuition revenue has been directed to pay for state financial aid. Twenty-five percent of the tuition increases for incoming resident undergraduates will go to the state’s need-grant program instead of going back to the school.
Now you have a restricted class, those paying tuition to public schools, paying a hidden tax for something that should, if it is to exist at all, be openly paid for out of the general fund by revenue levied equally across the state.
Typical of the shell game legislature critters play with the citizenry.