NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Governor of Florida who tried to get GE to move there from Connecticut is now making a pitch to Yale University. It comes just a week after prominent New Haven area state lawmakers proposed a plan that could impose a new tax on Yale. A spokesman for Yale says they are flattered by Florida’s offer, but plan to stay in New Haven for another 300 years.
The fact that Yale University’s $25 billion endowment has been producing hefty dividends for the prestigious school has not been lost on revenue-hungry lawmakers at the State Capitol. New Haven area lawmakers want Yale to invest more money on scholarships and other educational activities, or face a 7 percent state tax on those dividends. The plan is championed by the highest ranking member of the legislature, Democratic State Senate President Martin Looney of New Haven.
It specifically targets Yale because it would only apply to schools with endowments over $10 billion. Big surprise: Yale’s the only one. “I don’t like the law because I think that it only targets one institution here in the state and if they pass a law it should apply to all the colleges in the state,” says John Cirello of New Haven.
That’s one of the arguments that would likely help Yale challenge this in court. The school also says it could jeopardize future gifts. The reason the endowment is so large is because Yalies make good and give back to their alma mater. “If someone leaves money to Yale University it should be used as Yale wants to to use it,” said Kathe Last of West Haven.
Last year, lawmakers voted for tax hikes that Fairfield-based GE didn’t like. The Governor and the legislature quickly retreated, but GE announced they’re leaving for Boston anyway. Now, the Governor of Florida is making overtures to the famous Ivy League school. “I offered them the opportunity to move to Florida, they ought to move here. We’re a fast growing state, we got lower taxes and we’re clearly not going to be taxing them,” said Gov. Rick Scott (R-Florida.)
When we asked Gov. Malloy about the proposal he seemed to dismiss it saying, “I’m aware of it…we’re not going to raise taxes.”
Yale spokesman Tom Conroy notes they are the city’s largest employer at 13,000. They make voluntary payments to the city of $8.3 million a year and pay property taxes on all the non-academic properties they own throughout the city. He also notes that Yale continues to improve educational opportunities for students in the New Haven schools among many other endeavors in the Elm City.