NY-22 Minute: Tenney Inaccurately Asserts Syracuse University Supports GOP Tax Plan By Luke Perry
On Tuesday morning Representative Claudia Tenney discussed The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Talk! 100.7FM. During the interview, Tenney repeatedly asserted that Syracuse University endorsed the GOP tax plan.
“I’d like to have a tax cut too because I’m not getting a tax cut the way the plan goes and certainly I’m the last person that we should be considering, but there’s a number of people that aren’t getting a tax cut that are in the higher end. I mean the middle class is going to do very well which is why the Syracuse Post Standard, even Syracuse University of all things, has endorsed the actual framework of the tax plan . . .” (7:05)
“Answer the question why a progressive liberal newspaper like the Post Standard would support this if it were bad for the taxpayers? If this was bad for college students and colleges, why would Syracuse University, the largest higher educational institution in our region, why are they supporting the tax plan?” (9:32)
On November 20th Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud wrote a letter to Congressman John Katko articulating the university’s opposition to The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Chancellor Syverud identified provisions of the House bill that “may eliminate essential support for higher education.” The “most concerning” examples were:
1) “Reduce tuition tax credits and eliminate tax deductions available to offset the cost of higher- education for students:
2) Make employer-provided tuition payments taxable income;
3) Repeal Student Loan Interest Deduction.”
“The Bill also introduces a tax on endowment income for select institutions,” Chancellor Syverud explained, “and undercuts the ability of athletic programs to generate revenue to support investments in infrastructure, scholarships, and student programs.”
On Tuesday I spoke with Ray Toenniessen, Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Syracuse University. Mr. Toenniessen stated that “Syracuse University has not come out in support of the tax bill.” The university has “voiced opposition to specific elements of the House and Senate bills” with relevant elected representatives, including members of the House and Senate. This did not include Representative Tenney because “she doesn’t represent us.” Mr. Toenniessen stated that the university has contacted Congresswoman Tenney’s office about her comments.
A recent “conservative column” by an undergraduate student in The Daily Orange, an “independent newspaper with editorial content run by Syracuse University students” wrote that “The GOP tax bill isn’t popular, but it’s what Syracuse Needs.” The student author referenced the opposition of Syracuse University to the House bill, while days prior, the editorial board published an editorial that stated: “When it comes to the Republican tax bill, Syracuse University administrators and students are on the same page: They’re both against measures that would make graduate school less affordable.”
Tenney is a former media professional knowledgeable of the difference between individual editorials and formal positions of instititutions. It’s unclear whether this was the inspiration for her comments.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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