Drug Testing Welfare Recipients in Florida Isn't Saving Florida



I admit, when last we talked about Ron Ramsey's sadness over not being able to drug-test welfare recipients, I thought that drug use among welfare recipients might be a problem:

Man, it's a shame we can't have a real fiscal note on that genius piece of legislation. What would the cost of reforming and expanding DCS to handle all the kids who would still need to eat, even if their moms can't get welfare any more? You'd have to imagine that might be huge.

I am here today to say — I could be wrong.

In Florida, you now have to have a drug test to get welfare. In the first month of testing, 96 percent of welfare recipients tested negative for drugs — so the state had to reimburse them the cost of the tests. Cost to the state? Between $28,800-$43,200 a month. Oh, but surely this is saving them a ton of money, right?

The Tampa Tribune reports:

Cost of the tests averages about $30. Assuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800-$43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.

That compares with roughly $32,200-$48,200 the state may save on one month's worth of rejected applicants.

Well, that's not very much money at all.

It turns out that welfare recipients have some of the lowest rates of drug use among Florida's population (the Office of National Drug Control Policy says 8.13 percent of Floridians older than 12 use drugs) — which makes sense. If you're so broke you need government assistance, you probably don't have money for drugs.

You have to wonder if we'd find similar numbers in Tennessee. And if so, why would the Republicans want to expand our state government in order to implement a program that just breaks even?

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