Missouri became the most recent state this year to install drug testing for welfare recipients, reported the Kansas City Star. After eight months and 636 drug tests, the program turned up 20 people who tested positive and about 200 who refused to comply. Roughly 32,000 people in the state applied for assistance since testing began.
The program’s price: Nearly $500,000.
“I think it’s just astronomical,” said Rep. Stacey Newman, D-St. Louis County, Mo. “It’s a horrible waste of state resources.”
From March 1, when the program started, through October, the state received 32,511 welfare applications. Of those, 636 were referred for drug testing. Twenty tested positive, 194 refused to comply and 208 tested negative. Results were still not known for 214 people.
Other states that have been testing welfare recipients have seen results similar to Missouri’s program.
• Out of 4,086 drugs tests in Florida from July through October 2011, 108 tested positive. Court rulings stopped the program on the grounds it violated welfare recipients’ constitutional rights by requiring them to undergo testing regardless of whether they were suspected of using drugs.
Florida spent $115,000 on the testing and was forced to reimburse welfare recipients who had lost their benefits $600,000.
• Eighty-three out of 1,890 people screened for drugs in Oklahoma tested positive from November 2012 through May 2013, the most recent data available from the state. The state spent about $83,000 on testing.
• Only 14 people have tested positive in Utah out of 6,007 who have been screened for drugs from August 2012 through the end of October. The state has spent roughly $32,000 on the program.
Two states this year – North Dakota and Virginia – rejected bills that would have mandated drug testing for welfare recipients. Those measures would have cost between $400,000 and $500,000.
Last August, Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory vetoed a drug testing bill, saying it was too costly and ineffective. Lawmakers overrode his decision, but McCrory vowed not to implement the law until legislators appropriated enough money to pay for the program.
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