John Florez: Drug testing welfare clients wastes tax dollars

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  • Hellooo Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 7, 2012 10:10 a.m.

    John: I agree with your conclusion about not testing for drugs even though your premises are flawed. Addicts know how to pass scheduled drug tests, and rarely fail them. Random testing on such a population is not easy to administer. A better solution is to simply add a work requirement/component for any recipient of public money and this includes in my opinion subsidized health care through CHIP or subsidized mandated insurance through the Affordable Healtcare Act. Let the individual decide if the little amount received justifies continuing to take the public assistance payments.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    Aug. 5, 2012 6:15 p.m.

    News flash: Poor people use the least amount of drugs. How you ask? They have the least amount of money. Middle class is using the most drugs.
    There wouldn't be any money in drugs if only poor people couldn't afford it.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Aug. 5, 2012 3:25 a.m.

    Maybe we should have defined what the word "welfare" means before citing statistics about federal welfare dollars.

    The Constitution allows spending for "general welfare" but does not allow spending for "private or personal welfare". An example of "general welfare" is military spending. Military spending benefits the safety of the states directly and the people indirectly. An example of "private or personal welfare" is Human services. Human services benefit individuals directly and the states indirectly.

    Any spending which benefits the individual directly is welfare.

    Federal spending for individuals is two times more than defense spending.

    People are important, but providing for individual people is not the function of the federal government. That duty is passed to the states or to the people themselves.

    That's what John's article is all about. He does not want the State to check people for illegal drug usage. The taxpayers who open their wallets to help with the personal welfare of people in Utah will want to know that their generosity will eventually get most people off welfare. Identifying drug users is step one of rehabilitation. It cannot be ignored.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 5, 2012 12:42 a.m.

    "Three years later, the Utah legislature passed HB155 requiring all welfare applicants to be drug tested in order to receive assistance. Those that refuse could be banned from receiving help."

    That actually is not correct. The law only requires an applicant who otherwise qualifies for cash assistance under Utah's Family Employment Program to complete a written drug screening questionnaire, and if they fail, the screening and treatment would be required. It isn't to toss those that need help off of welfare if they have a drug problem. It is to help them get off of drugs. They are only removed if the won't take the help.

    Did the author read the bill?

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 9:57 p.m.

    The human services budget is not all welfare. It includes lots of things besides welfare. The stat previous noted that welfare is 12% and the military budget is 24% is more accurate...

  • Carson Provo, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 6:29 p.m.

    The Left Lies! Test Em!

  • cmbennett1 OGDEN, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 3:45 p.m.

    Members of the u. S. Armed Forces are subject to random drug testing. On any given day you may be ordered to give a test sample and it is a punishable offense not to comply.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 2:22 p.m.

    @Roland Keyser
    That's not accurate. The cost of the drug testing program was around 60,000 while the savings from payments not given out was around 100,000 leading to the net savings of 40,000 dollars. Of course that's a pretty small amount, roughly equates to 2 cents per Floridian.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 12:27 p.m.

    The US Government posted the following figures for 2011:

    Defense, $750 billion

    Human Services, $900 billion

    Social Security, $775 biliion

    Federal welfare is two times greater than defense. I stand by my statement that the public in Utah has the right to know if those who receive welfare are drug users. Training someone to work will not work if that person's problem is drugs.

    Caging that person by feeding him and housing him is NOT how we treat people.

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Aug. 4, 2012 10:58 a.m.

    A short search busted your claims.

    You have that backwards. Defense is 24% of the federal budget and welfare is 12%.

    In the four months that Florida's law was in place, the state drug tested 4,086 TANF applicants. A mere 108 individuals tested positive. To put it another way, only 2.6 percent of applicants tested positive for illegal drugs — a rate more than three times lower than the 8.13 percent of all Floridians, age 12 and up, estimated by the federal government to use illegaldrugs.

    Time and time again conservative facts and plans don't hold water.

    Since the defense budget is about 1 trillion total, and the job so critical, let's drug test the military and congress instead.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 10:05 a.m.

    Welfare costs on the federal level is two times more than defense. What percent of Utah's funds go to welfare? What is the purpose of welfare? Is it to make people dependent on government or is it to help them become productive members of society?

    Changing people's lives is not easy. It may easily cost more to help people become productive than it costs just to let them live off the dole. If we really care about people, we will help them become all that they can be. We will not treat them as animals that we feed, clothe, and house.

    Drugs are a major reason that people lose the ability to work. If welfare recipients are on drugs, they either need to be helped to get off those drugs or they need to be prosecuted for using drugs. Either way is expensive.

    Only the very heartless would tell us that the worth of a person is the cost which society pays to feed, clothe and house him.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 9:35 a.m.

    Drug testing for welfare has proven to cost taxpayers more than the savings.

    In other words, a terrific waste of money.

    Which makes total sense for the GOP to endorse it.

    They've never met a wasteful and expensive program that they didn't like.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 8:51 a.m.

    AIG is not a bank, it is an insurance company.

    cost of drug testing should not be the only consideration. It costs money top operate the highway patrol. Does that mean we should shut it down?

  • Screwdriver Casa Grande, AZ
    Aug. 4, 2012 8:39 a.m.

    People usually get welfare only because they have kids.

    Drug user parents usually loose thier kids to the state because of thier addiction. So while drug users are costing us a lot of money it's not the parents that are trying to take care of thier kids that are the problem.

    If you drug test and find a positive the kids will probably just be taken at great expense - and they should be taken out of that invironment. But it doesn't save any money.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 4, 2012 8:37 a.m.

    Well, if one is to use sound reasoning based on the information from the article, those receiving welfare have the same instances of drug use as the general population.

    So, it would be reasonable to conclude there are other factors at play.

    But, at the end of the day, it is merely a feel good solution, that costs more than it saves.

    So, by that logic, one should test medicare and medicaid patients. And how about Social Security?

    How about all govt employees?

    I noticed that in Florida, Gov Scott declined to take a drug test. Isn't he receiving tax dollars?

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 8:21 a.m.

    I'm okay with testing welfare recipients as long as we include bankers who got bailouts. They're welfare recipients too. The mount that went to AIG alone was six times more than we spend on welfare every year.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Aug. 4, 2012 8:03 a.m.

    People are unable to hold a job to support themselves for a reason. When they ask the public to support them, the public has the right to know that the reason those recipients cannot hold a job and support themselves is NOT self-inflicted by taking drugs.

    Is the purpose of welfare just to send money to people or is it to help those people learn how to become self-reliant?

    If drugs are a significant problem (and 10% drug usage seems to be a significant problem), then help those who are on drugs get off drugs so that they can work.

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 7:42 a.m.

    This is just another of the usual left wing propaganda from Florez. As usual, he is dead wrong.

    Welfare recipients must be tested to ensure that tax dollars do not go towards facilitating crime and addiction. If people want to be drug addicts, they must do so at their own expense.

    Florez and the leftists want to take away personal responsibility from welfare recipients. This sort of excusing is what has led to the drug epidemic in the first place. Actions have consequences, and it is time for druggies to live with theirs.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Aug. 4, 2012 5:39 a.m.

    I would agree that on the surface it seems reasonable to test welfare recipients.

    But, one would hope that when studied further, it would be concluded that it was not a cost effective use of taxpayer funds, and that the rate of drug use is on par with the general population.

    But, that seldom happens. Another GOP pushed feel good solution looking to find a problem.

    Oh for the days when common sense ruled.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Aug. 4, 2012 12:42 a.m.

    Florida tried drug testing welfare recipients. They found that the cost of the program exceeded the savings. This editorial is right.