A report finds the cost of drug testing for welfare recipients in Florida was nearly $46,000. That's more than the U.S. state would have paid out to people who failed their drug tests. Proponents say the issue isn't just about money.
The price tag found in the new report doesn’t seem to be a deterrent to supporters of mandatory drug testing for people seeking taxpayer assistance. In addition to the cost, only 2.6% of applicants tested positive for illegal substances, which was primarily marijuana, shooting down any theory that testing is a way to fight the war on drugs.
Yesterday, Reuters reported low-income residents in the state of Georgia seeking aid will also have to pass a mandatory drug test before they get any help. If they fail, they can’t apply again for a certain period of time, which is determined by the number of failed tests.
The Florida statistics also showed drug testing didn’t deter anyone from applying for government welfare, the New York Times reports.
Derek Newton, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida said, “Not only is it unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy, but it doesn’t save money, as was proposed”, while proponents say welfare recipient drug testing will save money and promote personal responsibility.
Chris Cinquemani, vice president of the Foundation for Government Accountability – a group that advocates for drug testing – thinks more is at stake than just money.
He says it’s about kids, explaining the law was really meant to ensure…”that our money wasn’t going to addicts, that taxpayer generosity was being used on diapers and Wheaties and food and clothing.”
According to a New York Times piece published February, 2012, Edward A. Buchanan, a Republican speaker of the Wyoming House.said, “The idea from Joe Taxpayer is, I don’t mind helping you out, but you need to show that you’re looking for work, or better yet that you’re employed, and that you’re drug and alcohol free."
In Florida, just 108 out of 4086 welfare applicants failed their drug test and 40 people canceled.
Applicants who passed their test were reimbursed the $30 fee, which is part of the law; adding up to $118,140. Newton said because that’s more than Florida would have paid in benefits to welfare applicants who failed drug testing, the impetus ended up costing Florida taxpayers $45,780.