Lamont proposes taxing textbooks

Tamonda GriffithsNews Writer

In a recent budget proposal, newly-elected Governor Ned Lamont stated potential plans to stamp college textbooks with Connecticut’s 6.35 percent sales tax.

According to an article in the Connecticut Post, Lamont proposed adding sales tax to a menagerie of goods and services in order to boost the state revenue by several million dollars.

Adanti Student Center Director Brad Crerar said he believes the taxation of textbooks will be “a hard one to sell” to the Connecticut legislature for approval.

“Sometimes, what the politicians will do is they’ll throw a whole bunch of stuff out there, knowing they won’t get everything,” said Crerar. “It’s really a wait and see.”

Crerar said he is opposed to this proposal and hopes it is fought.

“Students can’t afford to go to school now as it is, just with tuition alone,” said Crerar. “You know, at the rate we’re going, you know it’s just outpricing everyone for everything.”

Southern Connecticut State University Barnes and Noble Bookstore Director Larry Gal said nothing has been determined in terms of the taxation of textbooks.

Lamont likely proposed the taxation of textbooks because of the mass amount of people who attend colleges, he said. For example, in the fall of 2018, Southern’s enrollment headcount was 10,050.

Although 6.35 percent may not seem like much of an increase, Gal said it would be another 6.35 percent students would have to spend on their already expensive college education.

Currently, Gal said the bookstore offers new, used and rental textbooks at reduced pricing. Rental textbooks, he said can reduce the price of most textbooks anywhere from 30 to 50 percent.

The prices set in the bookstore, said Gal, are not designated by the bookstore, but rather the university and the publisher.

According to Gal, a textbook may be priced $75, however with the standard markup of 25 percent, the publisher will have the book sold at $100; however, 16 percent of the revenue goes back into the university.

To combat cost, Gal said the bookstore has recently introduced price matching, as well as digital rentals, which allow students to receive access codes through their outlook account.

He said these are some of the lowest cost options currently offered, as well as, one of the fastest growing.

Last November, Gal said he visited some faculty members and found most were unaware of the various textbook options afforded to students.

He said he has recently been working to introduce a program to the university known as First Day.

First Day, according to Gal, would allow students to purchase a textbook below the market value and access it directly through Blackboard Learn 9.

Student Government Association Vice President of the Board of Academic Experience Brooke Mercaldi said SGA has been advocating for the use of this program on campus to possibly reduce the burden that the cost of textbooks has had on students.

“Open Education Resources are essentially online, free open license education materials, or like online textbooks,” said Mercaldi.

Gal said Open Education Resources do not always offer free textbooks, but they are always at reduced prices in comparison to others.

Mercaldi said when a student purchases a Open Education Resource they can convert the source material or textbook into any viewable format they so choose.

“Rather than professors choosing really expensive textbooks to be able to use these Open Education Resources,” said Mercaldi, “and then cater them specifically to how they want so students don’t have to pay for textbooks they hardly use.”

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