Local Democrats and students have presented a petition to Republican Congressman Mike Bishop in regard to a student tax provision previously included in the Republican tax plan initially voted on today.

Dan Luria serves as the vice-chair for strategy on the Livingston County Democratic Executive Committee. On Monday, he delivered a petition to Bishop’s Brighton office that was signed by 290 residents of the 8th District. He and others say a little-noticed provision in the bill that passed the House would have made graduate students pay income tax on the graduate school tuition that universities waive in exchange for their work as instructors or researchers at universities.

Critics contend that because students never actually see any money when their tuition is waived, the provision would have force them to borrow even more on their student loans to pay the taxes. Luria says the “provision is so unfair that it was too much for even 31 Republicans, who wrote their leaders asking it to be removed from the tax bill.”

After student demonstrations in Washington, D.C., the provision was taken out of the bill as it was hammered out in conference committee, but Luria and others are questioning why Bishop voted for it the first place. Bishop serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which wrote the House version of the tax bill.

Bishop’s communications director, Annalyse Beaver, maintains that the Congressman listened to students’ concerns with higher education provisions included in the House version of the tax plan and worked with his Ways and Means colleagues to be sure students will still be able to receive tuition waivers tax-free and can continue to deduct the interest paid on student loans. Bishop says it is critical students are able to “achieve their dreams and not be overwhelmed by the cost of higher education.” The complete statement from his office is attached.

The sweeping $1.5 trillion tax bill voted on today slashes the tax rate for corporations from 35 to 21% and reduces taxes on the wealthiest Americans, while making more modest tax reductions for most others. The House passed the most significant overhaul of the tax code in three decades today in a 227-to-203 vote, split mostly along party lines, but the bill hit a late-afternoon glitch in the Senate. It ruled three minor provisions in the GOP bill needed to be taken out because they did not comply with budget rules. The Senate was to vote on the revised bill, meaning the House will need to vote again to pass it Wednesday and deliver the package to President Donald Trump before Christmas. (JM/JK)