FAIR? OR FAVORITISM?
We’re all for promoting adoption. In fact we believe support for adoption ought to be a prerequisite among those who claim to be pro-life.
Accordingly, we support tax credits for parents who adopt children – especially when those credits reimburse direct costs related to adoption.
But should government employees who adopt receive benefits that other parents don’t?
Lawmakers in South Carolina think so … and they continue to fund a program in the state budget that provides such an advantage. The so-called “Employee Adoption Assistance Program” – which operates under the auspices of the S.C. Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA) – offers subsidies in the amount of $5,000 per child (or $10,000 per special needs child) to “qualified program applicants.”
This money is paid out as a reimbursement for the “direct costs of adoption.”
The program – which is open to all state employees – receives applications between July and September for adoptions that were completed during the previous fiscal year (which runs from the first of July through the end of the following June).
There’s a catch, though …
The state can only dole out a total of $300,000 in adoption subsidies to its employees each year. Once this cap is reached, the value of the individual subsidies begins to decline.
“Should the total amount needed to fund grants at the maximum level exceed the amount authorized, the amount of a grant to an eligible employee shall be determined by dividing the authorized amount evenly among qualified program applicants,” language inserted into the budget by lawmakers reads.
Sources close to the agency tell us it is highly unusual for the cap to be reached – although it has happened at least once in recent years.
“We usually are below the maximum authorization,” one source told us.
Obviously $300,000 is a drop in the bucket of a state budget that’s projected to top the $28 billion mark this year. And it’s hard for us to get too bent out of shape about a program that rewards people for doing something good – something we want them to do.
Still … there is an underlying fairness issue to consider here. Why should an adoption credit like this only be available to state employees? Shouldn’t every South Carolinian who incurs adoption-related expenses receive the same credit?
Yes … they should.