Public assistance recipients are the employees of the tax payers. Drug tests are then used to make sure that these funds of the employers are not abused by people on public assistance purchasing illegal drugs. States have an obligation to hold those on public assistance accountable for their actions. Receiving a public assistance is a privilege, not a right. The debate on drug testing public assistance recipients is simply about the responsible use of our hard earned tax dollars. One-third of American corporations now require their employees to be tested for drug use.
These requirements are compatible with general employment law while promoting the public’s interest in fighting drug use. Moreover, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that drug testing programs are constitutionally permissible within both the public and the private sectors. It appears mandatory drug testing is a permanent fixture of American corporate life. (Bakaly, C. G. , Grossman, 1989) Since its inception in 1939, The United States public assistance program has helped families in crisis. Other welfare programs, such as TANF and WIC, have truly made a difference in the lives of American families.
Families are kept together, children are healthier and often times, recipients are able to use the welfare to help them as they find a new job. In some cases, welfare might even save lives. But, of course, the system has its flaws, and many argue that valuable tax payer money is being wasted. There are many pros and cons to this issue. The biggest positive of this program is that it would keep recipients from purchasing and using illegal drugs. This might mean they don’t even need the public assistance in the first place. It could also keep children and society in general, safer.
It could help social workers know when children are around drug abuse, and thus prevent further abuse in families. “It could help lower the demand for illegal drugs on the streets. It could possibly even save the system some money, as those who are on drugs would not receive welfare. It could even create new jobs for people to oversee the drug testing. ” (Rachel L. Carpenter, 2010) However, there are many cons of mandatory drug testing for people on welfare as well. One of the biggest negatives is that it is costly. Testing for illegal drug use is not cheap.
It could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, even if just one of every five recipients was tested. However, this may be rationalized by saying that the cost that drugs have on our society in general would be lowered. Another negative is that some people who are on prescription medication could show false positives, and be discriminated against, even with a doctor’s involvement. Many people argue that this is simply an invasion of privacy. In 1996, the Welfare reform Act gave all the states permission to impose mandatory drug testing a prerequisite and guideline to receive and qualify for welfare benefits.
Since 1996 there have been numerous states that have argued this idea within their house. Recently, Governor Rick Scott of Florida, states “ It’s not right for taxpayer money to be paying for somebody’s drug addiction, On top of that, this is going to increase personal responsibility, personal accountability. We shouldn’t be subsidizing people’s addiction. ” (Rep. Scott, 2011). The state of Florida approved this bill that took effect July 1, 2011. Governor Scott also stated “It’s the right thing for taxpayers,” Scott said after signing the measure. “It’s the right thing for citizens of this state that need public assistance.
We don’t want to waste tax dollars. And also, we want to give people an incentive to not use drugs. ” (Rep. Scott, 2011) Florida is not the first state to pass this law; Michigan passed a similar law but was found unconstitutional in 2003. The court states that the law was in violation of the US Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable search. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), activists and opponents are against this legislation. The opponents are stating many different reasons for not wanting to put this law in effect.
The testing is not trying to pick on the poor and unfortunate, but is it not fair to pick the pockets of the hard working tax payers to fund illegal drug purchasing? Stereotyping a welfare recipient is not the position to take. Not all recipients are drug offenders and neither are all employees. Mandatory drug testing is not meant to be a punishment it is meant to save tax money and to help the misfortunate. Drugs are illegal whether the user is on public assistance or not. Using illegal drugs are a choice. In order to stop the habitual offenders this law must be put into action in all states.
To catch these offenders, mandating random mandatory drug testing is a must. If a person refuses to take the drug test then they will lose benefits. A positive drug test will suspend benefits until there is a negative test result. Social workers, parole officers and many others will benefit from this law as well. By testing for drug use they will be able to stop the offenders and save a lot of tax money that can be utilized in other state programs. As a statistic, if one state has 200,000 public assistance recipients, they receive an average of $1200 a month.
If only 10% are tested and found positive, it would save that state $20 million. This statistic is based on the average cost of a drug tests being $30 to $50. Mandatory drug testing would correct the distribution of tax dollars and would benefit the public assistance recipient by making them more self-sufficient by allowing them counseling and opportunity to find a job to better them in society. . Studies show that the cost of the tests averages about $30. Assuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800-$43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.
That compares with roughly $32,200-$48,200 the state may save on one month’s worth of rejected applicants. The savings assume that 20 to 30 people – 2 percent of 1,000 to 1,500 tested – fail the drug test every month. On average, a welfare recipient costs the state $134 in monthly benefits, which the rejected applicants won’t get, saving the state $2,680-$3,350 per month. But since one failed test disqualifies an applicant for a full year’s worth of benefits, the state could save $32,200-$48,200 annually on the applicants rejected in a single month.