Proposal to limit adoptions could cost Tennessee more than $7 million a year

A bill currently before Tennessee’s House and Senate that would prohibit the adoption of a child by gay couples and heterosexual couples who are not married would cost the state more than $7.3 million dollars a year should the bill become law.

The bill, proposed by Senator Paul Stanley (R-Germantown) and Rep. John Deberry (D-Memphis) is expected to be heard by lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Family Justice Subcommittee, though a timeframe on that process has not been released.

The Fiscal Note on the bill indicates that the state would see annual increased state expenditures of $4,548,500 and an increase in federal expenditures of $2,838,700.

The state Department of Children’s Services has shown that out of 1,225 annual adoptions, about one-third or 380 are made by cohabitating couples. 

“On average, the delay in permanency will require an additional 180 days of state custody,” explaines the Fiscal Note written by James W. White, executive director of the Fiscal Review Committee for the Tennessee General Assembly. “For each additional day there will be an approximate increase of $108 in expenditures per child. Such will increaseexpenditures by $7,387,200 (380 cases X 180 days X $108 per day).” 

Christopher Sanders, president of the Tennessee Equality Project, said the Fiscal Note was just one of three compelling reasons for lawmakers to vote against the legislation.

"Legislators now have three compelling reasons to vote against this bill,” Sanders said. “The stories of Tennessee families affected, the research that demonstrates gay and lesbian parents provide stable, loving homes, and now a financial cost that is simply too high for our state to bear during the budget crunch."

The Fiscal Note also points out that:

  • Of the $7,387,200, seven percent ($517,104) will be Title IV-E Federal funds; 49 percent ($3,619,728) will be through TennCare; and $3,250,368 in state funds.
  • Of the TennCare funds, $1,298,107 is state funds at a 35.862 percent match rate and $2,321,621 is federal funds at a 64.138 percent match rate.
  • The total increase in expenditures for additional days of children in custody is estimated at $4,548,475 in state funds and $2,838,725 in federal funds. 
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