Tax cuts will harm local community, families

To the editor:

Scott Witten reported in The Laurinburg Exchange on November 14 on findings of a Laurinburg Economic Development Strategic Plan presented to the Laurinburg City Council. The plan stresses that Laurinburg has many assets, and that there is a need to focus on these assets, not negative attitudes. Higher education was listed as our number one asset. Indeed, with St. Andrews University, Richmond Community College, and The University of NC at Pembroke, we are most fortunate to have a wealth of opportunities for higher education.

On November 23, Nancy Barrineau and Jan Schmidt pointed out that the proposed new federal tax cuts will harm many. While the combined changes make it hard for the average Americans to fully understand how their net tax liability will change if the GOP bill becomes law, it is clear that higher education is one of the biggest losers, and the focus of this letter.

There is irony in the recent proposal that the City of Laurinburg emphasize our advantages in higher education, while one of the hardest hit areas in the proposed tax bill is higher education.

Both House and Senate bills eliminate the ability of taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes, which is projected to blow holes in state and local budgets and put education funding at risk of cuts as high as $370 billion over the next decade, costing hundreds of thousands of educator jobs. Incredibly, both bills allow corporations to continue claiming the state and local deduction even while taking it away from individuals and families.

Our community needs to be aware of the harm that these tax cuts can bring to our community’s greatest strength. The proposed tax cuts include eliminating tax deductions for interest paid on student loans, making it harder to pay off student loans. The proposals also eliminate both the student loan interest deduction and tax-free tuition reimbursement from employers. Slashing higher education benefits risks further limiting economic mobility, because it will make higher education less affordable for many families.

Let your legislators know that our area needs to continue its growth in education, not move in the opposite direction. Call Senators Richard Burr (202-224-3151) and Thom Tillis (202-224-6342) to vote no on the tax bill.

Helen Livingston