Rick Scott’s Welfare Drug Test Saves No Money: Judge

 at Huffington Post

First Posted: 10/26/11 03:07 PM ET Updated: 10/26/11 04:53 PM ET

Rick Scott Drug Test

Republican lawmakers in several states have expressed interest in copying Florida’s law that drug tests welfare recipients in an attempt to save money. But the federal judge who halted the scheme Monday on constitutional grounds ridiculed a conservative think tank’s estimate of the law’s savings.

“Though the State offers, as evidence of the cost savings, a pamphlet from the Foundation for Government Accountability,” U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven wrote in her order, “the data contained in the pamphlet is not competent expert opinion, nor is it offered as such, nor could it be reasonably construed as such.”

The Sept. 14 pamphlet said the new law, which took effect in July, had already saved the state nearly $1 million. While only nine people actually flunked the test in the program’s first two months, 565 went through every step of the application process but were denied benefits because they declined to take the test. If each such “drug-related denial” saved the state $1,600 in welfare costs for that applicant, that comes to roughly $923,000 in annual savings, according to the Foundation’s arithmetic.

But there’s no reason to assume each person who declined to take the test did so in fear of a positive result, Scriven wrote. Since the law required applicants to pay for their own tests, what if some of them couldn’t afford the $30 cost? What if some of them considered it a violation of their rights?

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