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Texas Governor Wants Drug Tests for Welfare, Unemployment Applicants


Texas Governor Rick Perry this week called for drug tests for residents seeking welfare or unemployment benefits, the Associated Press reports.

Perry and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst want to expand a bill that will come before the state legislature next year that would mandate drug testing for “high-risk” welfare applicants, and would ban them from using public funds to purchase alcohol, tobacco or lottery tickets. Perry and Dewhurst want the rules to also include those applying for unemployment benefits.

“Texas taxpayers will not subsidize or tolerate illegal drug abuse. Every dollar that goes to someone who uses it inappropriately is a dollar that can’t go to a Texan who needs it for housing, child care or medicine,” Governor Perry said in a news release. “Being on drugs makes it much harder to begin the journey to independence, which only assures individuals remain stuck in the terrible cycle of drug abuse and poverty.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas opposes the measure. Executive Director Terri Burke said in a news release, “How sad that our state’s highest elected officials have embraced this mean-spirited measure that would punish innocent children for their parents’ conduct. This proposal is a costly, ineffective, inhumane and punitive effort by state government based on stereotypes about our state’s neediest Texans.”

A Florida law that required welfare applicants to undergo drug testing was halted last year after the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sued the state to stop it. About 2.5 percent of the 4,000 adults tested before the program was stopped tested positive for drugs. Almost 2,500 people refused to take the drug test.

9 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Edilberto Durano
    Edilberto Durano / November 22, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    That’s the way to do it. We must at least know who’s an addict or not before offering them checks. If we don’t do this then these addicts will just use the money to buy drugs.

  2. John / November 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Testing ALL Gov’t receipients is fair, & what tax payer wants to support abusers? Then we have the question of refusing funding for the children of the abusers? Puts big-brother in a sticky situation… So now I guess big-bro is going to have to step in with Child Welfare & remove the children from the drug abusing parents. Now, foster care costs the state money as well. I’m thinking someone may need to do a study to see if it’s worth the tax-payer dollars to test the indigent, vs paying child welfare? would be interesting…

  3. Avatar of vaniter
    vaniter / November 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I think it is a good thing. I work and have to drug test to go to work and randomly get drug test to keep my job so why not every one else . My tax dollars help pay for them . I am a single mom of 4 boys and never had the help of the gov. or state help me with my kids I went to work making 4.25 a hour and feed my kids with very little child support . I got a better job that afford ins. and took it put ins on my kids and my self and keep it tell they all got grown. I still work and have my ins I pay for and pay taxes in like crazy and don’t get hardly anything back but some one getting gov help files there income tax and gets back thousand of dollars and has not even payed anything in that’s not right.the program was to help people in a time of need to get back on there feet not to live there hole life on it.

  4. Doug / November 16, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Those TANF recipients in Florida tested positive at a rate LOWER than the general population. It costs more to run the program than they saved! How embarassing for the prohibitionists, whose main accomplishment was to hurt needy children! Yes, some parents’ drug use impairs their parenting, but a positive drug test is not a diagnosis, nor is it a good reason for innocent children to do without basic human needs. Governor Perry lives in state-subsidized housing. I wonder what he is smoking?!?

  5. Avatar of Dale Willetts
    Dale Willetts / November 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Well said Katie! The real worse punishment for these children is living in households with drug abusing parents.

  6. Avatar of Richard
    Richard / November 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Charlie Ball hit it right. ANYONE who gets a government check should have to test, especially law enforcement and judicial/court workers as they are setting the example of how the law should be obeyed.
    ANYONE who says that parents should test clean BEFORE we feed their children, must simply hate children.

  7. Avatar of katie hall
    katie hall / November 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    So the American Civil Liberties believes enabling and subsidizing drug use should trump
    supporting non-drug users in need of housing, child care or medicinal needs? My empathy is for the children of drug users. 93% of runaway kids have drug-abusing parents… that speaks volumes about why drug-using parents must be in recovery and test clean before getting any benefits that continue to enable their drug user, tax-payer-paid not.

  8. Avatar of Ruth
    Ruth / November 14, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Why should it possible for any one to purchase tobacco, alcohol or lottery tickets with public funds? Don’t we already pay enough in taxes for those items as it is?

  9. Avatar of Charlie Ball
    Charlie Ball / November 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Fair is fair, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Everyone who gets a check from the state of Texas should test, welfare, unemployment, government workers, state congresspeople, Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

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