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Golden State Blues
California Democrats: Teachers Shouldn’t Pay Taxes

The latest bad idea produced by California’s Democratic legislators: Waive income taxes for the state’s senior teachers. Fox reports:

Legislators in California recently introduced a bill that would offer educators major tax breaks in an effort to keep them in the classroom and combat the state’s growing teacher shortage.

The measure quickly drew fire from taxpayer advocates who criticized it as politically inspired favoritism.

Democratic senators Henry Stern of Los Angeles and Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton earlier this month introduced Senate Bill 807, which would exempt teachers from paying the state income tax – which would be the equivalent of a 4 percent to 6 percent salary increase – after five years in the classroom.

Put aside the questions about fiscal prudence (this is a massive tax expenditure would need to be made up for elsewhere in the budget) and the questions about cronyism (California’s teachers union is perhaps the most powerful interest in Sacramento). The plan is fundamentally flawed because it represents an effort to double down on the rigid “blue model” of teacher hiring and promotion.

Schools should be able to aggressively replace underperforming teachers and keep new blood running through the system. But the promise of a big pay boost that sets in after five years will give teachers more of an incentive to stay on no matter what, and unions more of an incentive to lobby for even stronger protections against dismissal. (Defined-benefit pensions whose benefits don’t start accumulating for decades have the same effect).

If the legislature is going to give teachers a raise (which may or may not be necessary) it should aim the pay bump at young teachers—whose salary is already being consumed by pension benefits for retirees—so as to induce bright college graduates to give the profession a try. The promise of more pay five years in won’t attract young talent, and it probably won’t improve teacher quality. But it will exacerbate the sclerosis already plaguing the public education system.

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  • rheddles

    Prison guards won’t be far behind.

    • ——————————

      Yep, and then after that it will be police, fire fighters,….

  • Proud Skeptic

    Clearly pandering. Funny how people forget that compensation usually ranks about fifth in determining job satisfaction. Based on my experience with Baltimore public schools, there is literally no amount of money that can compensate for working conditions as deplorable as those city school teachers put up with.

  • PCB

    From what little this post provides, I see nothing that says the tax-exemption will be “instead” of future salary increases, and I can only assume exemptions will be in addition to typical salary increases; nor does it indicate if this tax-exemption will be figured into the pension calculations; again I can only assume it will be; in the end, most likely this exemption will prove to dramatically increase the pension-bail-out burden CA taxpayers already face – I wonder, will the tax-exemption carry over to exempt teacher pension income tax during retirement, too – WOW!

    • texasjimbo

      I don’t understand how the tax exemption could raise the pension of individuals. The pension amounts are determined by gross pay, not take home pay. Is there something I’m missing here?

      • PCB

        Ha-ha, No, no, all you’re missing is my faulty reasoning – you’re absolutely right, I was not thinking properly – thanks for setting me straight. I think I will revise my above comment. thanks!

      • Josephbleau

        You are right, this is designed to lower the future pensions, not raise them.

        • texasjimbo

          That makes even less sense. It may delay the onset of pension payments in some cases, but the checks will be bigger when they do start collecting them. It’s impact on the pension is trivial. The intent is to keep teachers on the job due to teacher shortages.

    • Josephbleau

      The big problem is that in CA you can’t have a good life on a regular job within 100 Mi of the pacific. Teachers can’t survive if they live in the town they teach in. We should have “Brownvilles” where the teachers live in east riverside and bus them to Newport Beach and Palos Verde every day.

  • f1b0nacc1

    I suspect that a big piece of this is to create a new class of people who are insensitive to increased CA state taxes, and who will thus be ‘cooperative’ when the state extends its begging cup once again.

    Yes, the money is a big deal, and it is obviously pandering, but what an excellent way to neuter a potential focus of resistance against increased governmental greed.

  • FriendlyGoat

    It’s my understanding that 13 states exempt military retirement pay from state taxation. The idea is to attract retirees and their government pension dollars into the states’ economies. This kind of tinkering on who or what might be exempted is not new, but I tend to think most of it is a bad idea.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    No. Common. Sense.

  • TGates

    Next, there will be “special stores” with discounted prices and no sales tax; then “special healthcare facilities” where CA government workers get expedited treatment with no out of pocket costs; “special housing” to offset the high costs of housing; get the idea?

    • Josephbleau

      I get it comrade. Meet you at GUM later.

  • Jonathan Dembo

    If there is one rule in politics – besides avoiding open mikes – it is that tax payers vote and non-taxpayers don’t vote. The art of politics is therefore to make sure that people who don’t pay taxes belong to your opponents’ parties. California Democrats would be insane to take away the main reason why teachers vote for them. Once they are certain that they will never have to pay the cost of politics, California’s teachers will lose their biggest incentive to be politically active. Nothing they do, and nobody they vote for could possibly improve upon their existing condition. Therefore, doing nothin, staying home on Election Day, will be their best choice and the Democrsts will lose their votes, and their money, and their campaign workers.

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