Welfare Drug Testing: Is It Necessary Or Not?

The drug testing for welfare recipients program was signed into law last year and has begun as a pilot program in Schuylkill County . It could pave the way for a statewide program this summer in Pennsylvania, if it proves cost effective.

The cost-benefit aspect is one Pennsylvania officials will examine in the pilot program, when the officials try to cut costs in the state’s most expensive division — the Department of Public Welfare.

“This initiative seeks to stop the abuse within our welfare system,” he said, adding that government benefits should only go to those “who genuinely deserve state assistance,” State Sen. David Argall said in a statement last month.

Indiana’s House and a Virginia House committees approved a drug-test bill for welfare recipients. But “after a federal judge blocked a much broader drug-test rule in Florida, Pennsylvania is taking a more careful approach. Instead of mandating drug tests for all welfare recipients, Pennsylvania plans to randomly test only those with a felony drug conviction within the past five years and those on probation for such offenses”, FOX News reported.

Opponents claim the proposals are unfair and not cost effective. According to FOX News,” the Center for Law and Social Policy estimates drug testing the poor will cost between $20,000 and $77,000 per person.

The group said the tests cost between $35 and $76 each to administer, and described them as an “inefficient use of taxpayer money”.

“I’m not all hardcore, you know, ‘Throw them on the streets, they’re no good.’ That’s not who I am. I recognize a drug addiction for what it is. I just want to help people do better in life, get them the job skills they need to make an impact on society … Sure, this bill is carrot and stick, but I want it to be more carrot,” the bill’s co-sponor, Sen Richard Alloway said last year.

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