Teachers on the job for at least five years would be exempt from paying state income taxes under a bill that aims to increase the number of teachers entering and staying in the profession.

Senate Bill 807, or the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act, is part of a series of bills lawmakers are currently proposing to help ease California’s teacher shortage.

SB 807 would also provide tax credits for education students working to obtain their credential or advanced degrees. If it becomes law, California would be the first state in the nation to exempt teachers from paying state taxes.

But the bill likely faces opposition in the legislature and from Gov. Jerry Brown, who indicated in his initial 2017-18 budget proposal that California can’t afford new initiatives to tackle the state’s ongoing shortage of qualified teachers.

SB 807 was introduced by state Senators Henry Stern, D-Canoga Park, and Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, and coauthored by Assemblymembers Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, and Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles. The bill will be reviewed by various legislative committees in coming weeks.

Other bills before lawmakers include:

  • AB 169, which would provide grants of $20,000 to students in teacher preparation programs who commit to teach math, science, bilingual education or special education. (Status: to be heard by the Assembly’s Education Committee in coming weeks)
  • AB 410, which would prohibit school districts from charging new teachers for induction programs that provide additional training, mentoring and other support. State law currently allows districts to charge up to $3,500 for the service. (Status: failed to receive enough votes in the Education Committee Wednesday, could return to the committee at a later date)
  • AB 234, would restore the Assumption Program of Loan for Education, or APLE program, providing a combined $5 million in funding for 7,200 teaching candidates to support their education if they commit to working in a high-demand district or school. (Status: was approved 9-0 this week by the Assembly Higher Education Committee, will be referred to other committees in coming weeks)
  • AB 45, which would transfer $100 million from the state’s General Fund budget to the California School Employee Housing Assistance Fund for grants to districts for teacher rental housing; and AB 1157, which would make teacher housing first priority for surplus properties sold by school districts. (Status: both will be heard by the Assembly on Housing and Community Development March 22)

SB 807’s authors said it would lead to higher teacher retention rates and better trained teachers, factors that would contribute to a stronger state economy.

“The teaching profession is critical to California’s economic success and impacts every vocation and profession in the state,” Stern said.

“SB 807 addresses the immediate teacher shortage and sends a loud and clear message across the state and nation, that California values teachers,” he said.

The initial language of the bill doesn’t include cost estimates. However, EdVoice, a nonprofit education advocacy group that supports the bill, estimates that it could cost the state $608.5 million annually in lost tax revenue, and an additional $9 million to pay for tax credits for teaching candidates to cover fees for credentialing programs or master’s degrees.

For typical teachers with five or more years of experience, not paying state income taxes would be equal to a 4 to 6 percent pay raise, according to EdVoice estimates.

“California’s current teacher shortage affects students in high-need schools and in high-poverty districts and communities the most, which exacerbates opportunity and achievement gaps between disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers,” EdVoice President Bill Lucia said in a statement.

The bill would provide the same financial benefit for all teachers regardless of the grade, subject or region where they teach. Ongoing studies from the Learning Policy Institute, a Palo Alto-based research and policy organization, have consistently found the teacher shortage is the most severe in special education, math, science and bilingual education, and in rural and inner city regions.

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  1. Greg 3 weeks ago3 weeks ago

    When does the free stuff stop? How about exempting other government employees from paying state income tax? Who pray tell will make up for this shortage in tax revenues in California that already runs budget deficits? If you want to run more people out of California to other states, keep up the out-of-control spending. By the way, how about providing a cost estimate that will not increase? The cost … Read More

    When does the free stuff stop? How about exempting other government employees from paying state income tax? Who pray tell will make up for this shortage in tax revenues in California that already runs budget deficits? If you want to run more people out of California to other states, keep up the out-of-control spending. By the way, how about providing a cost estimate that will not increase? The cost of a bullet train has already tripled from the original cost estimate. We have plenty of teachers in California already, we do not need SB 807 nor anything like it. We just have to change the culture in California to improve the quality of the person, i.e. a teacher, an engineer, a CPA, a lawyer, etc.

  2. Peter 1 month ago1 month ago

    For profit charters and corporate investors have been working to privatize the education system and lessen oversight and transparency in education. As we see more and more corruption in charter schools and migration of new teachers from public schools, the support of those teachers who are dedicated to all students (socioeconomically, physically, emotionally and mentally disadvantaged) is important. We must support public school teachers as much as possible. This bill is a positive incentive … Read More

    For profit charters and corporate investors have been working to privatize the education system and lessen oversight and transparency in education. As we see more and more corruption in charter schools and migration of new teachers from public schools, the support of those teachers who are dedicated to all students (socioeconomically, physically, emotionally and mentally disadvantaged) is important. We must support public school teachers as much as possible. This bill is a positive incentive to help keep public schools adequately staffed with dedicated professional teachers. I support this bill and urge law makers to pass it in support of all California students.

  3. Liz Burns 3 months ago3 months ago

    There is also a critical shortage of infant/toddler and preschool teachers. Do any of these bills include these categories?

    Replies

    • Fermin Leal 3 months ago3 months ago

      Liz, the bills included in the story above, including SB 807, primarily target k-12 teachers. However, there is a shortage for early childhood educators as well, so other legislation might play a role in addressing this demand going forward.

  4. Michael 3 months ago3 months ago

    Although the bill may have the intended effect of retaining or recruiting teachers, it will also have the effect of causing the state to find alternative routes of raising the $620 million dollars they would lose in state tax revenue. From where will that money come? A teacher's salary may be increased by 4 to 6 percent but they are paying it all back somewhere to cover the deficit the state will face. The teacher … Read More

    Although the bill may have the intended effect of retaining or recruiting teachers, it will also have the effect of causing the state to find alternative routes of raising the $620 million dollars they would lose in state tax revenue. From where will that money come? A teacher’s salary may be increased by 4 to 6 percent but they are paying it all back somewhere to cover the deficit the state will face. The teacher shortage is a problem but this is not the proper route.

  5. Heidi Walker 3 months ago3 months ago

    What about adjunct faculty? We earn less than half of full time faculty and many of us teach at several colleges, commuting hours to teach a class. I hope we are included in this bill.

  6. Raoul 3 months ago3 months ago

    The proposal to exempt five year veteran teachers from state income tax does nothing for younger, newer teachers. Younger teachers are often carrying large student loan loads, trying to clear their credentials and sometimes being charged for it. They are struggling to get housing, and to get reliable transportation from the only housing they can afford to jobsites often a long commute away. They were laid off in droves, 30,000 of them, in … Read More

    The proposal to exempt five year veteran teachers from state income tax does nothing for younger, newer teachers. Younger teachers are often carrying large student loan loads, trying to clear their credentials and sometimes being charged for it. They are struggling to get housing, and to get reliable transportation from the only housing they can afford to jobsites often a long commute away. They were laid off in droves, 30,000 of them, in the last recession and will be pink slipped in the next recession. In fact, even now, many received pink slips in LA and Orange Co.
    Yet there is now proposed yet another perk which applies only to longer established tenured teachers who already make double on the average what new teachers earn for doing the exact same work. When Neil Gorsuch is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court and mandatory public employee union dues are once again before that Court, at least the newer teachers can stop paying dues to a union that seems to care little for newer teachers, as in this instance.

    Replies

    • Megan 3 months ago3 months ago

      Did you read the bill? It does propose that there be a tax credit equal to the amount of what someone pays for a teacher preparation program for those people first entering the profession. This would include tuition and test fees, as well as credentialing fees.

  7. Eugenia Waugh 3 months ago3 months ago

    A ludicrous idea that does nothing to alleviate the war zone many teacher are expected to tolerate in the classroom. Makes more sense, if I were a teacher, to move to a state with no income tax and less tolerance of bad behavior. Also, it does not cover charter or private educators. This smells of CTA influence to me.

    Replies

    • Fermin Leal 3 months ago3 months ago

      Thank you for your comment Eugenia. The bill would cover charter school teachers according to its language: “An ‘Eligible teacher’ is a taxpayer who meets all of the following requirements: (A) Is a teacher of record in a California public school teaching any of the grades kindergarten through 12th grade, inclusive…” In California, charter schools are public schools. The bill, however, does not include private school teachers.