Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
For some reason it has escaped notice here in Arizona, but Governor Doug Ducey put his name on a letter from Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), who chairs the Agriculture Subcommittee in Congress, about the supposed need to drug test SNAP recipients so as to break their “dependence on government”.
Dear Mr. Aderholt:
As you know, multiple states have recently enacted drug-testing provisions as part of the state-based requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as SNAP or food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service administers this program at the federal level, but disagrees with these drug-testing efforts.
We believe that Congress specifically gave states the flexibility to decide whether to implement this common-sense reform in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. This Act provides that “States shall not be prohibited by the Federal Government from testing welfare recipients for use of controlled substances nor from sanctioning welfare recipients who test positive for use of controlled substances.” 21 U.S.C. § 862(b).
Since SNAP and other welfare programs typically have job training requirements as a core element, we write today to express our sincere confidence that drug testing recipients of SNAP benefits is not only lawful, but will aid in our ability to move individuals off of this welfare program and back into the workforce as productive members of their communities. After all, drug testing and potentially getting treatment to be drug free doesn’t make it harder to get assistance; it makes it easier to get a job. We look forward to working with you on this important issue.
Governor Scott Walker; et al.
As has been repeatedly demonstrated, this type of drug testing is needlessly humiliating and a complete waste of time and money.
According to state data gathered by ThinkProgress, the seven states with existing programs — Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah — are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to ferret out very few drug users. The statistics show that applicants actually test positive at a lower rate than the drug use of the general population. The national drug use rate is 9.4 percent. In these states, however, the rate of positive drug tests to total welfare applicants ranges from 0.002 percent to 8.3 percent, but all except one have a rate below 1 percent. Meanwhile, they’ve collectively spent nearly $1 million on the effort, and millions more may have to be spent in coming years.
Duh. Drugs are expensive, which is why if the Governor and other Arizona Republicans were really concerned about people misusing government subsidies to buy drugs they’d do well to look toward drug testing the affluent parents of K-12 students receiving tuition tax credits. I mean, shouldn’t we be thinking about the well-being of those children and of the productivity of their parents?