A bipartisan bill making its way through the Ohio House of Representatives is trying to change a tax credit from a non-refundable state to being refundable.

State Representatives Reggie Stoltzfus (R) and Janine Boyd (D) are working in tandem on the bill.

The two have intimate connections to adoption as Stoltzfus and his wife adopted one of their children, and Boyd was adopted when she was an infant.

Currently, there are more than 16,000 kids in the state’s foster care system and thousands are being forced into it as a result of the opioid epidemic.

“If we don’t increase adoption, if we don’t increase support for adopting families, foster care families and kinship care families, the kids that are in crisis actually end up costing the state much more long-term,” said Boyd.

Soltzfus says the state needs to do a better job incentivizing adoption and this bill is one way that can happen.

The legislation switches the current adoption tax credit from being a non-refundable $10,000 that can be accessed over five years, to a one-time refundable credit of up to $10,000.

“There’s a lot of families who make less than 50,000 dollars who adopt that may never even come close to taking advantage of that tax credit,” said Stoltzfus. 

The switch from being non-refundable to being refundable makes a significant difference, according to Douglas Althauser, the executive director of the Family and Youth Law Center.

“When a family can take as much as $10,000 off of their income tax that’s going to help them at least for that year,” said Althauser.

Althauser, an adoptive parent himself, says while that seems like a lot of money adoption can be quite expensive so it is unlikely the families taking part in the program would see a significant chunk of change, but it would be enough to perhaps put a down payment on a minivan, or decorate a bedroom, for example.

It is difficult to pin down exactly how much money this could save the state over the lives of the children who would be pulled out of the system and saved from lives where the state has to pay for services, according to Stoltzfus.

When it comes to the tax credit, the change would cost the state $6.2 million annually.

Stoltzfus was asked if he felt that would make the bill difficult to get passed in a budget where many competing tax cuts are being addressed and he said: “It’s all about our priorities.”

When deciding between offering $40 million in tax cuts to bring motion pictures to the state or helping find kids forever homes at the cost of $6.2 million, Stoltzfus says the decision is easy.