98 Percent of Welfare Applicants Pass Drug Test

$178 million later, Florida Gov. Rick Scott's assumptions about poor people appear to be a bit off base. 

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Thanks to Florida Gov. Rick Scott's insistence that people on welfare use drugs at a higher rate than the general population, the state's Legislature implemented a policy earlier this year requiring all applicants for temporary cash assistance to pass a drug test before getting any help.

The results: Ninety-eight percent passed. And the process will cost the state $178 million.

The Tampa Tribune reports that the Department of Children and Families says about 2 percent of applicants are failing the test and another 2 percent are not completing the application process for unspecified reasons. 

Here's the Tribune's assessment of how much the state will pay:

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.

Net savings to the state: $3,400 to $5,000 annually on one month’s worth of rejected applicants. Over 12 months, the money saved on all rejected applicants would add up to $40,800 to $60,000 for a program that state analysts have predicted will cost $178 million this fiscal year.

Maybe Florida politicians are the ones who need to be tested to see if they're under the influence of something (prejudice, perhaps?) that's making them think this wasteful program is good public policy.

Read more at the Tampa Tribune and ColorLines.

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