UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland says Tax Reform is “a high-priority concern”

Like many of you, I have been closely monitoring House and Senate action on tax reform efforts in Washington. It has been a high-priority concern of the higher education community since the bill was introduced earlier this month.
UC Merced and the University of California system have joined countless public and private institutions and associations across the country to weigh in on aspects of the bills that would make higher education more expensive and less accessible and have a negative financial impact on the university, our students, faculty, staff and retirees. The UC Advocacy Network (UCAN) will soon issue a call to action urging members of the UC community to make their voices heard in Washington. If you are interested in advocating on behalf of the UC and UC Merced, I encourage you to sign up for UCAN updates here.
The House has voted to pass its bill and the Senate Committee on Finance approved the Chairman’s Mark of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Nov. 16. Amendments made to the House bill did nothing to address the concerns laid out by the UC in a Nov. 15 letter and analysis to the California Congressional delegation from President Napolitano.
The full Senate could vote on the tax package as soon as this week. While the House voted to approve H.R. 1 quickly and overwhelmingly, it is less clear whether the Senate will be able to approve a bill as swiftly. This provides us a window of opportunity.
Extensive outreach to members of the House and Senate have been ongoing. A number of coalitions and national advocacy organizations — including the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), Association of American Universities (AAU), American Council on Education (ACE), National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, and many others — have worked to mobilize their members and those concerned about impacts to the higher education community.
As the Senate bill progresses, and with the looming prospect of a House-Senate reconciliation process, contacting elected officials in Washington is crucial to ensuring they understand the adverse impacts the bills could have. A comprehensive analysis of the two bills drafted by subject matter experts at the UC Office of the President is available for your reference.
While tax reform is the most pressing issue on the federal agenda currently, we must not forget other ongoing concerns. The UC has been a leading voice encouraging Congress to reach a bipartisan, permanent legislative fix that will allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to continue to study, work and live in the only country they’ve ever known. You can access the UC’s DACA advocacy toolkit here. Congress must also complete appropriations before Dec. 8 to avoid a shutdown that would directly impact the UC’s research, education and health care priorities.
In the coming weeks and months, there will be many opportunities for us all to advocate on behalf of the UC system, our campus, its faculty, students and staff. I will continue to make sure our concerns are front and center with our delegation in Washington, and I hope you will join me in these efforts.
Dorothy Leland

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