Florida's Welfare Drug Test Program Costs the State Money


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The New York Times is reporting the recent Florida law requiring welfare applicants to submit to a drug test has actually cost the state $45,7870 since its inception in July, state documents are showing.

The law was approved amidst the guise that it would save taxpayers on welfare costs and deter drug users from collecting from the government to support their habit.

Instead, the numbers show the program cost the taxpayers money, deterred few drug users and had no effect on the total number of applications for welfare.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, sued the state last year, and recently obtained the state documents. The suit claims that the law is unconstitutional, violating the Fourth Amendment right that protects against "unreasonable search". Judge Mary S. Scriven of The Federal District Court issued a temporary injunction, freezing the law until a judgment can be reached.

From July until October of last year, the four month period in which the testing took place before Judge Scriven's order, only 2.6% of the states welfare applicants failed the drug test. The most common failure resulting in marijuana use.

The Florida law requires applicants that pass the test be reimbursed the $30 testing fee, costing the state $118,140. This is more than what the state saved in benefits for the people that failed. $45,780 to be exact.

Some may argue that the law itself deterred drug users from even applying, but documents from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) show that is not the case. No fewer cases were reported during the time when the law was enacted.

Georgia instituted a similar law this week. The South Center for Human Rights in Atlanta is expected to file a lawsuit as soon as the law takes effect.