Senate bill would eliminate income tax for California teachers

TOSA (Teachers on Special Assignment) English Language Development teacher Christina Marinelli, left, speaks to a class of teachers at the Saugus Union School District office in Valencia on Feb. 17, 2017. Dan Watson/The Signal

In light of the increasing teacher shortage in California, Senators Henry Stern and Cathleen Galgiani announced the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act.

If passed, Senate Bill 807 would eliminate all state income tax for teachers who stay in the classroom for more than five years, as well as provide tax credits to cover training costs and teaching credentials for new teachers.

“Teachers are the original job creators,” Stern said in a statement. “The teaching profession is critical to California’s economic success and impacts every vocation and profession in the state.”

The senate bill aims to tell teachers they are valued in California by training them and keeping them in classrooms, Stern said. In addition to encouraging people to go into teaching, the bill aims to encourage veteran teachers, former teachers and out-of-state teachers to get into California classrooms.

As nearly one-third of teachers leave the profession every five years and baby boomer teachers retire, the shortage continues to increase, the statement read. Additionally, teachers are currently retiring at five times the rate of fire fighters and police officers.

“I think the greatest economic stimulus we could have in the state of California is to invest in teachers in our classrooms,” Stern said. “We’re trying to kick off the conversation and at least say, ‘here’s what’s possible.’”

Stern said his teachers are the reason he became a lawyer and a state senator. A teacher who cast Stern in a school play in kindergarten built his self-esteem, a teacher in 8th grade taught him about the constitution, empathy and injustice and a high school U.S. history teacher taught him the fundamentals of the country.

“I owe everything to those people and I know not enough people value that profession,” he said.

According to the statement, three-fourths of schools in California reported having difficulty recruiting teachers.

EdVoice, a nonprofit organization that works to improve student achievement and eliminate educational inequality, announced their sponsorship of the bill.

As said by EdVoice President Bill Lucia, the teacher shortage affects students in high-need and high-poverty communities most, creating a larger achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their peers.

“It’s time California leads the nation and sends a clear message to all current and future teachers: You are valued and California will reward your commitment to California’s kids and future,” Lucia said in a statement.

To sign a petition to support the senate bill or to receive more information, visit EdVoice’s website on SB 807,

Senate Bill 807 is also co-authored by Assembly members Monique Limón and Miguel Santiago.

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