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Welfare drug tests costing you money?

TAMPA, Fla. -- Since July 1st, Floridians must pass a drug test to receive certain kinds of welfare benefits.

On his campaign, Governor Rick Scott promised drug testing people on welfare would save Florida 77 million dollars! However, early results show that's far from true.

10News takes a look at the math:

  • Drug tests cost about $30 each.
  • In 6 weeks, 1500 people have been tested.
  • 98% of people passed the tests and must be reimbursed for the cost of the test.
  • That means taxpayer money has already spent more than $44,000 on drug tests.

The savings?

  • For the 2% of people who've failed so far: taxpayers have saved roughly $48,000 in welfare benefits.
  • Minus the $44,000 spent on testing: taxpayer savings drops to just $4,000!

Here's the catch: many of those people who failed the drug test can still qualify for benefits for their children through another family member. That means taxpayer savings could drop even further, turning into a loss for taxpayers.

On May 13th, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported, "Just paying for those forced drug tests could cost the State of Florida anywhere from $1 million to nearly $8 million dollars."

Tampa Bay's chapter of the ACLU also says these tests shouldn't be happening. "We think it's a waste of taxpayers' money," says ACLU Senior Attorney John Dingfelder. "But, more importantly, it's a clear violation of the 4th Amendment freedoms of these poor folks who are asking the state for money."

That's why the ACLU is considering a lawsuit to stop the drug testing. "We believe, and the court in Michigan has already confirmed, this is a violation of 4th Amendment search and seizure protections. And if we have to, we'll go to a court here in Florida and have a judge make that same determination," Dingfelder told 10News.

If you've had to submit to one of these drug tests, 10News and the ACLU want to hear from you. Contact them at: (786) 363-2700 or by email at: jdingfelder@aclufl.org

Also, write 10News Reporter Chase Cain 

The other issue with the drug testing relates to the percentage of Floridians using illegal drugs.

Governor Rick Scott claims that people on welfare are more likely to use drugs. The Office of Drug Control Policy says about 8% of all Floridians use drugs. However, Florida's drug tests of people receiving public assistance show only a 2% rate of drug usage. That's lower than the general population! 

Follow 10News Reporter Chase Cain on Twitter @chase_cain


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