A bill that would give as much as $2,250 in tax credits to help reimburse parents for added virtual learning costs in the past year unanimously passed the Senate Governance and Finance Committee 5-0 on Thursday.
Senate Bill 610, authored by Senator Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), would specifically allow for up to 50% of all qualified remote learning expenses to be returned via a tax credit, with a cap being set at $2,250 per child. Qualified purchases under SB 610 would all be directly related to virtual learning, such as tutoring services, special needs services, books, school supplies, computer equipment, software, and internet services.
Should the bill pass this year, the tax credit would be applicable for every year between 2021 and 2025.
Senator Grove wrote the bill as an additional way to help offset unforeseen costs for educational services that, in a normal academic year, would have been provided by schools directly by taxpayer funding.
“SB 610 just passed the Committee on Governance and Finance,” said Senator Grove on Thursday in a recorded statement. “If you’re a parent who in the past year had to add full-time teacher to your already busy day because of the governors response to COVID-19, this bill is for you. I know you adjusted your workday to take on this role, but you already had to purchase items to help your children be successful in this new learning capacity. You most likely had to increase your internet, buy a laptop, books, supplies. Maybe pay for a tutor. Maybe you have a special needs child and the extra help became very expensive.”
“My bill, SB 610, will allow you to have a $2,250 per child tax credit for those and other qualified expenses. I know it’s not a full reimburse for all that you did to make sure your child got the best education possible under the circumstances, but this tax credit will help.
“We faced unprecedented times over the past year, and most of our students had an abrupt change in their daily life. And parents, I’m so proud of you. You did such a great job to help fill in the gap. This bill is for you. I stand with the thousands of parents who petitioned in support of my bill.”
— Senator Shannon Grove (@ShannonGroveCA) May 6, 2021
No formal opposition has been formed as of Friday against SB 610, as shown by the unanimous, bipartisan passage in the Senate committee on Thursday.
“A lot of parents saw a lot of added costs,” Kelly Teller, a PTA president at a Kern County school, explained to the Globe on Friday. “Many parents had to get laptops or surprisingly expensive internet connections despite having just lost their jobs. Many parents I talked to also had to buy these things with a low-income job, where a new laptop wasn’t exactly an expected cost.”
“Some districts in the state did help pay for internet, provided laptops, and helped give everything vital they needed, but many others didn’t. Or the thing they did provide, like internet, wasn’t enough because of everyone needing it for work and school. Having a dozen devices using Wi-Fi at the same time on a basic internet plan doesn’t exactly bode well for internet speeds.”
“This bill is something we needed yesterday. A large burden was placed on parents, so this is a decent start in making up for everything we did for our children since the pandemic started and they had to learn from home.”
SB 610 will face another Senate committee hearing later this month.