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California Bill Would Exempt Veteran Teachers from Paying State Income Tax

SACRAMENTO -- A first of its kind bill is making its way through the state legislature -- it would exempt veteran teachers in California from paying income tax.

The legislation comes as an incentive to keep teachers in the state and draw new ones in an attempt to address California’s ongoing teacher shortage in the state.

“There's 53 unfilled positions in the Sac City Unified School District. That means hundreds of kids right now, today, do not have a credentialed teacher in their classrooms,” said Nikki Milevsky, president of Sacramento City Teachers Association.

Milevsky says Sacramento's not immune to California's ongoing teacher shortage. Recession layoffs, low salaries and higher costs of living have had their impact.

"That convinced a lot of potential teachers not to pursue a credential,” said Milevsky.

"This bill is an effort to plug the hole and say we're lifting teachers up,” said Senator Henry Stern, a Democrat from Calabasas.

Now lawmakers have a unique solution to the problem, no state income tax for teachers with at least five years of experience and a tax credit for new teachers.

"We want to increase across the board take-home pay for teachers in the state of California, anywhere from 5 to 7 percent,” said Stern.

The teacher-turned-state-senator co-authored the bill, SB807. He says one-third of all California teachers quit before their fifth year because it’s too hard to manage. He's trying to keep them in the classroom.

"You're not going to be able to get paid $50,000 a year and go live in the Bay Area, go teach at the local school....we think it's a pretty creative tool, we'll see how the fiscal conservatives in this house want to approach this,” said Stern.

So far there’s been no opposition yet from either party, and with 75 percent of all California school districts facing a teacher shortage, time will tell if the idea, a first of its kind, makes the grade.