Michigan is the next state to jump on the welfare drug testing bandwagon. MyFoxDetroit reports that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed new legislation that targets recipients of welfare for drug testing. The controversial program is set to be implemented in three counties on a one-year trial basis.
The program itself is a bit ambiguous as to exactly who will be tested. Those who receive welfare and are “suspected” of of using drugs will first be offered treatment. So what happens if recipients refuse this treatment? They will lose their benefits for an entire six months. If they refuse to be tested, they will lose benefits for six months. This is alarming on several levels. The burning question is ‘what constitutes suspicion’? Who gets to decide who gets tested or treated? Where is the oversight?
So what happens if a recipient tests positive for drug use? They will be referred to treatment, and if their next test comes back clean, they will have their benefits restored. Now comes the really important question: Who pays for all of this treatment and testing? The taxpayers, of course, will foot the bill.
To understand why this is an absurd waste of money and resources, we only need to take a look at Florida’s miserable failure of a drug testing policy. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida began drug testing welfare applicants in 2011. In the four months that the program was active, only 108 of the 4,086 applicants tested showed a positive result. That is a whopping 2.6 percent. Compare that to Florida’s 8.42% illegal drug use rate, and it is obvious that more people not on benefits use drugs than those who are.
The Florida law required that all applicants who passed the test be reimbursed for the average cost of $30. Taxpayers ended up paying $118,140 in reimbursements, which ended up being $45,780 more than the benefits that would have been paid out to those who failed their tests. What a savings to the taxpayers of Florida! This complete and utter failure still didn’t discourage supporters of the program, who have stated that drug users, no matter the numbers, shouldn’t be allowed to use taxpayer money. It doesn’t matter that that very same money just vanished into thin air.
One must now question who profits from welfare drug testing, if not the taxpayers. The answer seems to be the drug testing companies. In Florida, one of the companies conducting the testing was Solantic—a company owned by, you guessed it, Gov. Rick Scott. In January 2012, Scott divested himself of interest in the company, but not before transferring the controlling share to a trust in his wife’s name.
Michigan taxpayers need to be extremely cautious about where these funds are actually going.