College student tax vote in Pittsburgh

Pitt studentsAs part of its bid to become the Least Cool City in America, Pittsburgh's City Council is preparing to vote on a plan to add a 1% tax to tuition bills for the 100,000 college students who call Pittsburgh home.

The mayor announced a one-week delay on the vote this morning, and colleges and students in the area are lobbying aggressively to get the mayor to back off the plan -- which, it should be noted, is one of the dumbest ideas in history.

According to the New York Times, "Combined with a the $200 million the mayor hopes to get from selling or leasing the city's garages, city officials believe the tuition tax will be enough to bring the pension fund above the 50 percent threshold, and thus avoid state takeover, by the end of 2010."

Wait a second: Why the hell should college students be responsible for overly lavish pension programs and poor funding and management decisions on the part of pension managers?

Joe King, president of the Pittsburgh firefighters' union, told the Times that "Without the tax, the fate of those pensions could be in trouble."

But why is that the students' responsibility? Here's why: Most students aren't residents, and therefore can't vote in city elections, making this an incredibly cynical and opportunistic instance of taxation without representation.

Shame on Pittsburgh, and shame on the mayor. With college costs and student debt loads skyrocketing, there couldn't be a worse time to do something like this.
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