'Grinch' governor vetoes New York adoption tax credit
by Emily Belz
Posted 12/19/14, 11:35 am
NEW YORK—The New York legislature in June unanimously passed a bill providing a tax deduction for families adopting children out of the foster care system. On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed it.
Cuomo, in his veto memo, said he supported the policy behind the bill but that it was “overly broad” and should be debated in the budget session. The governor’s office did not immediately return a request for further comment.
Despite his rationale in vetoing the adoption incentive, Cuomo in recent days has himself made budget decisions without any debate in the legislature. This week, he ordered the state Department of Health to cover hormone therapy and sex-change surgeries through Medicaid.
“In our state, governors take actions unilaterally that affect funding all the time,” Kathleen Gallagher, who lobbies in Albany for the New York Catholic Conference, told me in an email. Both state-level evangelical and Catholic groups supported the adoption deduction.
“Where are the governor’s priorities?” asked Rev. Jason McGuire, the head of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. McGuire referred to Cuomo as a “grinch.”
Supporters argue this bill only improves the state’s bottom line. The bill’s text outlines the huge savings the state gains from families adopting out of the foster care system. The state spends $33,000 a year on each child in the foster care system. The estimated deduction would add up to at most $10,000, or a loss of about $600 in taxes to the state. Adoptive families already receive a federal tax credit, but the state-level credit would expand their savings.
New York has 23,000 children in its foster care system, and 6,400 of those children were awaiting adoption as of 2011. Only 417 children were adopted that year.
“[I]t is clearly in the best interest of these children and to New York taxpayers to create incentives to reduce the number of children in government custody,” the bill reads.