17 December 2013

Drug-testing welfare recipients

Minnesota may spend more money performing the drug tests and implementing the program than it saves by denying benefits to drug users:
A new state law designed to prevent drug users from receiving welfare benefits could end up costing taxpayers far more than it saves, while inadvertently denying assistance to poor families simply because they are unable to comply with its complex paperwork.

Like a recent wave of drug-testing laws passed in other states, Minnesota’s legislation was touted as a way to encourage greater responsibility among welfare recipients while saving taxpayers money.

But many county officials and advocacy groups say the reality is quite different: The law contains a bevy of costly local mandates and complicated rules that apply to just a tiny fraction of the 167,000 Minnesotans receiving welfare and other cash benefits.

Critics also say the policy is based on the false perception that large numbers of welfare recipients are using illegal drugs. A new analysis by the state Department of Human Services (DHS) found that participants in Minnesota’s welfare program for low-income families are actually far less likely to have felony drug convictions than the adult population as a whole...

In 2013 alone, at least 30 states proposed bills related to drug screening and testing, with some even extending it to federal benefits such as unemployment insurance, according to the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington, D.C...

Just 0.4 percent of participants in the Minnesota Family Investment Program, the state’s main cash welfare program, have felony drug convictions, DHS records show. That compares with 1.2 percent of the state’s adult population as a whole.
This may be the most salient comment:
“I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that this is about saving taxpayers money,” said Heidi Welsch, director of family support and assistance for Olmsted County. “This is punitive.”


  1. It may well be punitive, and that's fine. Glad to see more communities and states doing this.

    1. Absolutely, Steve- let's get as punitive as we can possibly get! And since statistics show "participants in Minnesota’s welfare program for low-income families are actually far less likely to have felony drug convictions than the adult population as a whole..." let's make doubly sure that we test anyone and Everyone! We don't want any of those low life boogers getting away, no matter how much it costs. I'm sure The Tea Party will support raising taxes to do just that! This is a definite win-win-win!!!

  2. No. It's not fine. It's called kicking someone while they're down.

  3. And who profits? In some states it has been a politician or politician's relative who owns the testing companies. The taxpayers sure don't benefit.

  4. we have no money to help people not be poor, but we have all the money in the world to punish them for being poor.

  5. I'm opposed to the War on Drugs, but if recipients of corporate welfare are going to be tested, I will focus my opposition elsewhere.

  6. The testing is dumb, it isn't free. If the state pays for negative tests and most tests come back negative what's the savings here?

    Testing people who can't be legally searched because there isn't adequate reason to suspect them is simply wrong. Employers get away with thus crap in the name of safety, states are doing this in the name of harassment.

  7. In Florida, only 2.6% welfare recipients failed the test and the most common reason was marijuana. Gov Scott then went on to random drug testing of state employees. Guess which company benefited most - Solantic clinics owned by his wife.

  8. If I had a dollar for every drug test I passed in my using days I could buy a used car lot. Weak, ineffective legislation. And what about alcohol? The money and energy is better spent on treatment and prevention.

  9. Please consider another aspect of this. Millions of Americans take all kinds of legally prescribed medications which would produce a failed drug test. This failure then has to be "explained" by the presentation of documentation from one's physician. No big deal? On the contrary, in smaller towns and communities it's nobody's damn business what medications I or my wife take and if you don't think that information will leak out, you know nothing about small towns. It's bade enough that a person may need temporary public assistance without having their privacy invaded and spread around town.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...