Should Drug Testing Be Mandatory for Welfare Recipients?

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Should Drug Testing Be Mandatory For Welfare Recipients?

Florida Governor Rick Scott made plans to test all welfare recipients to see if they are using drugs before they can receive payments is hardly saving the state any money, according to recent reports. At $30 per test, the state paid $28,800 in drug test reimbursements (960 reimbursements at $30 each, since about 2 percent also didn’t finish the application process) for those who did pass, while saving themselves about $66,000 in payments that did not have to be made for the year to those applicants that didn’t make it through for one reason or another (applicants receive $138 a month, or $1,656 per year). Studies show that the 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. The savings assume that 20 to 30 people — 2 percent of 1,000 to 1,500 tested — fail the drug test every month. On average, a welfare recipient costs the state $134 in monthly benefits, which the rejected applicants won’t get, saving the state $2,680-$3,350 per month. But since one failed test disqualifies an applicant for a full year’s worth of benefits, the state could save $32,200-$48,200 annually on the applicants rejected in a single month. Net savings to the state — $3,400 to $8,200 annually on one month’s worth of rejected applicants. Over 12 months, the money saved on all rejected applicants would add up to $40,800-$98,400 for the cash assistance program that state analysts have predicted will cost $178 million this fiscal year. In other words, in one year, the program will likely at most save the state 0.06 percent of the overall welfare budget. Governor Scott’s argument behind fighting for the new law was that welfare recipients are much more likely to be using drugs...
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