Gonzalez’s Endowment Tax Proposal a Good Start

Jay Gonzalez, candidate for governor, proposed an endowment tax to fund public higher education and other priorities.

Photo: Jay Gonzalez. (Wikimedia Commons)

We are heartened to see that gubernatorial candidate Jay Gonzalez has endorsed a bold progressive plan for funding public colleges in Massachusetts by taxing massive private college endowments. For years, PHENOM has advocated for new funding to support our chronically ignored and underfunded public colleges. Taxing the nine largest private endowments that operate as hedge funds is a good start.


WBUR: “Gonzalez Endowment Tax Proposal Gets Harsh Response From Higher Education Community”
Daily Hampshire Gazette: “Gonzalez floats tax on private college endowments”
State House News Service: “Jay Gonzalez: Tax Harvard; Charlie Baker: Bad Idea”
WWLP: “Baker rips Gonzalez’s endowment tax as ‘bad idea’”
Next City: “Gubernatorial Hopeful Wants to Tax Massachusetts’ Private Colleges”

“While our public colleges have been suffering through decades of budget cuts and fee hikes, Harvard has built up an endowment of over $40 billion,” said Amy Blanchette, a Bristol Community College graduate and president of PHENOM. “It’s time for them to give back.”

We credit this bold policy vision to PHENOM’s years of work to change the conversation around higher education in Massachusetts. Public colleges and universities educate the vast majority of Massachusetts residents who choose to go to college, and working class students deserve a major investment in debt-free public higher education.

“In contrast to self-serving claims by private college and university lobbyists, this investment in the public good will help Massachusetts families struggling to pay for college,” said Zac Bears, executive director of PHENOM. “This will benefit the Massachusetts economy by cutting the cost of college and alleviating some of the pressure from the student debt crisis.”

The $1 billion raised by this proposal is a good start towards reinvestment, but it will not be enough to fix the crises we face in not only public higher education, but K-12 public schools, public transportation and other public goods. The endowment tax must be a piece of a larger revenue strategy, including the Millionaire’s Tax and other options, and we look forward to connecting students and workers with lawmakers to continue these important conversations.