Welfare Drug Tests Cost Florida $46K

And didn't uncover all that many drug users, either: new data

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 18, 2012 7:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Remember that controversial Florida law requiring welfare seekers to submit to drug tests? Turns out it didn't save taxpayers any money, didn't affect the number of applications, and didn't even ferret out very many drug users, the New York Times reports. During the four months the tests were given, just 2.6% of applicants failed, mostly for marijuana use. Everyone who passed was reimbursed for the cost of the test—which totaled $118,140, or more than the state would have paid in benefits to those who failed, according to an ACLU director. That means the program actually cost the government $45,780.

The tests were only given from July through October; at that point, following an ACLU lawsuit against the state, a judge issued a temporary injunction halting the tests. The recently released state data comes on the heels of Georgia installing a practically identical law and other states considering doing the same. Of course, supporters of the Florida law still back it, and some insist that the law will deter drug users who would normally apply for assistance. “Not only is it unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy, but it doesn’t save money, as was proposed," says the ACLU director.

Florida's welfare drug tests haven't actually saved money, new data shows.   (Shutterstock)
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Many states are considering following Florida’s example, and the new data from the state shows they shouldn’t. Not only is it unconstitutional and an invasion of privacy, but it doesn’t save money, as was proposed. - Derek Newton, ACLU of Florida communications director

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