Gov. Andrew Cuomo had an opportunity to help the adoptive parents of special needs children by signing Bill S.4121-A (Ritchie)/A.10658 (Simon), the Special Needs Adoption Tax Deduction Bill. This legislation would have allowed the adoptive parents of a special needs child to deduct $10,000 from their gross income for tax purposes. Unfortunately, the Governor did not take that opportunity.
On November 28, 2016, Gov. Cuomo vetoed the Special Needs Adoption Tax Deduction Bill. In his veto message, the Governor contended that the bill “would result in significant unbudgeted costs.” The Governor added that “funding decisions of this nature must be addressed in the context of the annual budget negotiations.” NYCF disagrees with the Governor on both counts. Within the context of the state’s $155.6 billion 2016-2017 budget, the fiscal impact of the proposed tax deduction would be minimal. Also, past experience demonstrates the Governor’s willingness to approve legislation with significant fiscal implications outside of the budget process; the 2014 law legalizing and regulating medical marijuana is one recent example.
Gov. Cuomo did concede that “the adoption of children with special needs is a critical issue that warrants further consideration.” On that basis, the Governor signed Bill S.7697 (Avella)/A.8176-B (Crespo) into law. Apparently, the Governor signed Bill S.7697 (Avella)/A.8176-B (Crespo) based upon the mistaken belief that it would require the Office of Children and Family Services to report on the impact of expenses “related to adopting a child with special needs.” In reality, Bill S.7697 (Avella)/A.8176-B (Crespo) would require a report on the impact of a tax deduction for expenses incurred in adopting a child through the foster care system. In other words, the new law that Gov. Cuomo thinks will require a study about special needs adoption will actually require a study on a different adoption-related topic.
Despite the Governor’s confusion about its contents, his approval of Bill S.7697 (Avella)/A.8176-B (Crespo) is a positive step. However, the Governor’s veto of the Special Needs Adoption Tax Deduction Bill is a strange way to celebrate National Adoption Month. NYCF is deeply disappointed that Gov. Cuomo has now vetoed pro-adoption measures during each of the past three years. As a matter of public policy, the State of New York should promote adoption and remove obstacles that might hinder families from adopting children. This bill would have helped parents who desire to adopt a special-needs child, but are concerned about their ability to afford the responsibility. State government should recognize the sacrifices made by parents who take on the rewarding but challenging task of adopting special needs children. Unfortunately, Gov. Cuomo’s veto demonstrates that he has other priorities. New York’s families and children deserve better.