University of New Hampshire (UNH) President Mark Huddleston testified on behalf of ACE and 10 other higher education associations yesterday at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on “Tax Reform and Charitable Contributions.”
The hearing was called to examine the itemized deduction for charitable contributions as part of the overall effort on comprehensive tax reform.
In his testimony, Huddleston noted that while the higher education community recognizes the pressing need for major, long-term deficit reduction and reforming the tax code, caution should be used when considering potential changes to the current charitable deduction, which is vital to generating support for colleges and universities.
He said that at UNH, more than two-thirds of charitable giving supports student aid, “because maintaining affordability and access to all, regardless of income, is both a priority and a challenge, and because our alumni, parents and friends are committed to supporting our mission.”
Huddleston also discussed the decline in state funding and the fact that private support was vital to the effort to replace some of those lost dollars.
“The State of New Hampshire currently provides only 6 percent of our operating budget, after the largest percentage cut in appropriation in the nation’s history: 49 percent, in 2011. In fact, if the state doubled its support, we would still be last,” he told the committee. “The state’s subsidy to each public college and university student in the state has fallen by $5,000 in real terms over the past decade; it now amounts to less than $600 per year. We were already cost-effective—our cost per credit hour is 30 percent lower than our competitors in the Northeast—and we succeeded in absorbing almost 80 percent of the most recent loss in funding. Under these circumstances, private philanthropy is especially critical to our mission.”
The committee heard from an extraordinary number of witnesses—seven panels comprised of 42 speakers from some of the most high-profile nonprofits in the country—after Rep. David Camp (R-MI), the committee’s chairman, opened the hearing to anyone wanting to testify.
Charities Get Tough Questions on Tax Breaks—and Can Expect More
The Chronicle of Higher Education (sub. req.)