Politics & Government

Lawmaker asks Bevin to reconsider $240,000-a-year adoption ‘czar’ from seminary

State Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville
State Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville

A state lawmaker urged Gov. Matt Bevin Thursday to reconsider his appointment of a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary official at $240,000 a year to overhaul Kentucky’s adoption and foster care systems.

Bevin appointed Daniel S. Dumas, who has been a senior vice president at the Louisville seminary, to the new office Wednesday. He is to start work June 19.

In a letter to Bevin that State Rep. Jim Wayne made public, the Democratic legislator from Louisville said the six-figure salary and background of Dumas are “serious concerns that deserve reconsideration.”

The Republican governor did not immediately comment on the letter. Dumas did not return calls to his office.

Wayne, in his letter, praised Bevin for elevating the state’s attention to the needs of children waiting to be adopted.

But he said Bevin’s decision to pay Dumas $240,000 a year “is head-scratching at a time your own budget director is forecasting a $113 million revenue shortfall when the state’s fiscal year ends June 30.”

“How can that salary be justified when the state treasury doesn’t even have enough money for our underpaid front-line social services workers? With social workers for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services starting at about $33,670 per year, Mr. Dumas’ pay could cover up to seven additional state social workers,” Wayne said.

In addition to the base annual salary of $240,000 a year, Dumas, who will report directly to the governor, will be eligible to receive annual performance incentives not to exceed 20 percent of the his base if the governor is satisfied Dumas has met certain goals.

“Sometimes in the business world, there’s the mentality if you elevate the salary that makes the position more important,” Wayne said in a phone interview. “This is an important position but out of line with state government salaries.”

Bevin is paid $142,977 a year and Health and Family Services Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson makes $160,973 a year.

Wayne said pay for the new position should be less than Glisson’s. “I’d say in the neighborhood of about $125,000,” he said.

Wayne’s letter also said Dumas’ background doesn’t provide the training and education needed to effectively serve in a leadership position regarding adoptions.

Dumas is a former pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., and earned degrees from Criswell College and The Master’s Seminary. He served in the U.S. Navy and is a published author and professor of Christian ministry and leadership.

Dumas and his wife, Jane, have two adopted sons. The governor and his wife, first lady Glenna, have nine children, four of whom are adopted.

The lawmaker also questioned whether Dumas’ background with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will influence his attitude regarding foster parenting and adoptions by same-sex couples.

“Kentucky can’t afford to miss this golden opportunity to do the right thing and finally fix our foster care and adoption system,” Wayne said. “There are 8,000 children with no permanent homes who depend on effective reforms. The long-term psychological and social consequences to those kids are something our state cannot afford.”

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics