Welfare recipient drug testing brings shocking results

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Savings or Not, Welfare Drug Testing Laws Are Gaining Steam


When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced his presidential candidacy, he made one of his priorities very clear: he wanted welfare recipients to pass a drug test prior to collecting public assistance benefits, which could inadvertently hinder and complicate the process of delivering aid to some low-income residents. Now, a day after Walker announced his resignation from the presidential race, we're taking a look at this issue.

Similar initiatives can be traced back to as far as 2009. In November 2009, GOP Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona made an announcement that the state would test adults if they felt like there was a "reasonable cause" to believe they were getting high.

But while the laws were designed to help save money by keeping people who might use their benefits on illegal drugs instead of bare necessities, they largely proved to be a complete waste of the state's money. Mic reports that the implementation of the process cost the Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars.

Three years after the program was initiated in Arizona, over 87,000 welfare recipients have been tested: One test came up as positive which ended up saving the state only $560, according to USA Today.

The Arizona Department of Economic Security told the Arizona Sonora News Service earlier this year that over the course of more than five years, "42 people have been asked to take a follow-up drug test and 19 actually took the test, 16 of whom passed. The other 23 were stripped of their benefits for failing to take the drug test."

In total, three welfare recipients failed their tests in five years. When the program was initially implemented, state officials promised $1.7 million in savings.

Six states have implemented similar programs since 2009.

The video below highlights information about drug testing welfare recipients in Maine:

Welfare Drug Testing Moving Forward In Maine

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