Locals react to GOP tax bill and impact on college students

Locals react to GOP tax bill and impact on college students

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Parts of the House GOP tax code overhaul plan are raising concerns on local college campuses. The legislation gets rid of the student loan interest deduction and more that involves higher education and more.

Louisiana's two Republican U.S. senators said in general the proposed reforms are good for taxpayers and will put more money in the pockets of middle-class families.

"The president has said that is his goal and secondly it has provisions that should increase economic growth, increasing jobs, increasing pay," said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana.

"For a family of four in LA making $60,000 a year with two kids taking the standard deduction this bill is going to put between a thousand and $2,000 extra in their pockets," Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. said.

But on college campuses parts of the House proposed legislation have students and educators concerned.

The house bill gets rid of deductions for student loan interest.

"I'm not for it because it really strips a lot of those students and kids who have the opportunity to go to school, it takes that away from them and you want to give as many people the opportunity to so," said UNO student Jeremiah Joseph.

"It will make higher education more expensive in the long run because the people who have to take out a lot of debts won't be able to write off that $2,500 a year in interest against their taxes," said UNO economist Walter Lane, Ph.D.

He said the proposals affect higher education in other ways.

"There's not just one thing, there's about four, or five, or six things in there almost all of which raise the cost of higher education," said Dr. Lane.

The House bill also repeals provisions that exclude tuition waivers and tuition exemptions for grad students from taxable income.

"Graduate students now if they get a tuition exemption which almost all of them do, well, many do that would now count as income, so the tuition waiver that they get would count as income, now with the doubling of the personal exemption I don't think, most students don't make very much money so if you double a personal exemption I don't think that's going to hit them too hard," Dr. Lane stated.

FOX 8 News asked Sen. Cassidy about the proposed changes affecting college students.

"Whereas the House is looking at things like that, the Senate is not, so I think we have to wait to see what the final proposal is and then what comes out of our conference committee," said Cassidy.

Cassidy and Kennedy said the senate version of tax reform comes out Thursday.

"We have to keep higher education affordable, now you can argue that if I'm a doctor if somebody used loans to go to medical school and is now a neuro-surgeon making decent income that perhaps they should be treated a little bit differently but on the other hand that's not most people," Sen. Cassidy added.

"I could easily vote for the House bill although I think it could be improved," Kennedy said.

Some higher education educators believe anything that would have a chilling effect on people considering furthering their education is not good.

"Anytime you raise the price of something, the quantity, the demand is going to go down and so there will clearly be some people that will be squeezed out of higher education," said Lane.

Cassidy and Kennedy said the proposed tax reform does a lot of good.

"If you double the standard deduction most folks right there are doing better than they would under what we're currently doing," said Cassidy.

"Most of the people I've seen that really look into this carefully are not real optimistic that we're going to get as big of a job creation engine as the president and others are promoting," said Dr. Lane.

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