Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced that he has signed off on the state’s plan to drug test some welfare recipients, which will be implemented on November 9th.
Walker’s office released a statement on Tuesday which said that the program submitted by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families is “another step forward in implementing drug testing of able-bodied adults seeking certain welfare benefits.”
Walker said that the program will apply to “certain able-bodied adults seeking benefits and/or training through Transform Milwaukee, Transitional Jobs, and noncustodial parents in the W-2 program.”
[pull_quote_center]Our 2015-17 State Budget implements common-sense reforms that put in place drug screening, testing, and treatment mechanisms, so we can continue strengthening Wisconsin’s workforce Employers across the state frequently tell me they have good-paying jobs available in high-demand fields, but need their workers to be drug-free. These important entitlement reforms will help more people find family-supporting jobs, moving them from government dependence to true independence.[/pull_quote_center]
Under the new plan, Walker also noted that “individuals who test positive for a controlled substance without a prescription would be eligible for a drug treatment plan.”
“In Wisconsin, we enacted a program that says that adults who are able to work must be enrolled in one of our job training programs before they can get a welfare check,” Walker said at his campaign launch. “Now, as of the budget I just signed, we are also making sure they can take a drug test.”
Wisconsin filed a lawsuit against top officials at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in July, challenging the federal rules surrounding the U.S. food stamp program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Federal rules were unclear regarding whether states could legally drug test welfare recipients.
In February, ThinkProgress reported that after looking at similar programs in Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah, it found that the states are spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars to ferret out very few drug users.”
The report noted that according to statistics, while the states collectively have spent nearly $1 million on the drug-testing efforts, welfare applications test positive for drugs at a rate of 0.002 percent to 8.3 percent, which is lower than the national drug use rate of 9.4 percent.