POLL: Do you Think Welfare Recipients Should Be Subjected to Drug Tests?

State Representative from Utica, Jeff Farrington, introduces bill to Michigan House demanding that welfare recipients should have to take drug tests.

Republican Rep. Jeff Farrington of Utica introduced a bill Tuesday calling for drug tests to be used to determine eligibility for welfare benefits.

House Bill No. 5223 states, "If an applicant tests positive for substance abuse, the applicant is ineligible to receive Family Independence Program Assistance benefits under this act."

The bill also states that even if an applicant passes the test, the cost of  administering the test should be deducted from their first welfare check. 

"Welfare benefits are for those who truly need temporary assistance," Farrinton said. "After recipients leave the welfare rolls and re-enter the workforce, many of them will be required at the job application stage to complete a drug screening before gaining employment - new welfare recipients should follow this same principle."

Lawmakers in many states have proposed drug tests for recipients of the Family Independence Program benefits, or other government assistance programs. However, Florida just enacted the law this year. That's the first time a law like this has been passed in over a decade.

"To be clear, this is not an attack on the overall base of welfare recipients," Farrington said.  "No matter how many - or few - recipients test positive for using illegal drugs, Michigan taxpayers should not have to contribute their hard earned dollars to those who choose an illegal lifestyle.  It's time we reformed the welfare system to make sure our limited resources are spent on those who are truly in need."

Daryl Patrishkoff December 16, 2011 at 01:20 PM
Jordan, It is very simple. The goal is to get them independent and a job will do that. To get a job you need to pass a drug test at most companies and the list is growing. This is a fact! We also have a law that states using drugs is illegal. Common sense says if one is spending money on drugs, they have to cut back on other expenditures which in many cases reduces the support for the children. We also know that drug usage degrades people’s ability to function which will not keep them employed. If you truly care about these poor people you should want them to get off of assistance. This is where the "tough love" comes in with accountability. In my opinion if we continue to allow them assistance without accountability and a path to independence we are abusing them. This is why we should agree to disagree, you want to protect their privacy to use illegal drugs and not hold them accountable to get them off of assistance. I want them off of assistance and independent, this is the help they really need. Continuation of just giving the money without accountability causes dependency. It is abuse to cause people to be dependent. This is our difference and opinions. So, we agree to disagree! I enjoyed our conversation and wish you and your family a great Christmas.
Jerry Grady December 16, 2011 at 02:26 PM
One Word.... ACCOUNTABILITY..... For some reason everyone wants to step away from it.
Don Volaric December 16, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Jordon, if you had a flat, would you keep putting air in to inflate or would you patch the hole first & then inflate? This is your analogy.... "Your entire analogy relies on the idea that poor people are poor because they are on drugs". Wow good luck! P.S. The Constitution Of The United States (Bill of Rights) is a Republic. The poll numbers is a Big Time super majority. Have a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.
Jordan Genso December 16, 2011 at 05:14 PM
What a cryptic comment. I don't know where to begin... If I had a flat, I would fix the hole before inflating, but I have no idea how your question relates to the discussion about drug testing. Because you provided nothing beyond the question, I made what I felt was a reasonable assumption that you were using it as an analogy. If you weren't, I apologize for making that assumption, but I then have to ask what in the world were you talking about. How did car maintenance enter this discussion, and more importantly, why? I'm patient, and am willing to give you as much time as you need to explain your reasoning. In regards to the Constitution, I'm sorry to point out that it is not a republic (I don't think a document could itself be a form of government). You could argue that our government outlined in the Constitution is a republic, which is accurate, since a republic is simply a form of representational democracy. Which makes it equally valid to say we have a democracy. Again though, I have absolutely no idea how that relates to this discussion, but am very intrigued by the idea that you may have some sort of reason to bring it up. I'll be on the edge of my seat waiting for an answer. The poll numbers are unfortunately overwhelmingly in support of this idea. I still don't see how that disputes my earlier counterpoint about limits on majority rule. Are you conceding my point, yet not my conclusion? I hope you too enjoy whatever holidays you celebrate this season.
Jordan Genso December 16, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Do you support making drug tests mandatory for all children in public and private schools, or do you want to protect their privacy to use illegal drugs and not hold them accountable? Do you support making drug tests mandatory for everyone who files a tax return, or do you want to protect their privacy to use illegal drugs and not hold them accountable? That's some quality framing right there. I could support this idea, if it only impacted those who were breaking the law. But this negatively affects all individuals who need help, the vast majority of whom you have no reason to suspect are doing drugs. Since you stated it is a "fact!", I would like a cite that backs up your claim that over 50% of jobs require a drug test. Your statement that drug usage leads to people being less likely to stay employed also needs a cite. I've shown evidence indicating the contrary, when drug users are less likely to need assistance. If you truly care about poor people you should support policies that would help them get off assistance, and no one has shown how this policy would achieve that, other than by repeatedly making the same unfounded claims. If more than 95% of people who need assistance are not on drugs, how does this policy help them? And you still haven't shown how it helps the 4% other than encouraging them to be like the other 96%. I've enjoyed the conversation, even though I feel like you haven't addressed any of my points. I hope you have a nice Christmas as well.
Daryl Patrishkoff December 17, 2011 at 03:30 AM
Jordan, You are taking this conversation to many areas that are outside of the scope of the conversation. Of course I do not think we should drug test children, this is the way to bring up another subject and take focus away from the subject at hand. I see this as a foolish way to try and challenge and discredit me with a stupid situation. In any of your posts or data you do not address the real goal of assistance, which is getting people off of assistance and become independent. All you want to do is allow people to do illegal things (using drugs) and hid under privacy concerns. My opinion and approach is to hold people accountable and challenge them to rise above and become independent. This is the assistance they need, not a check every week. I believe if you just send them a check every week you are abusing them. Your fact about job readiness and drug testing is just wrong. What world do you live in? Employers want drug free employees for safety and liability reasons. I spend plenty of time in plants and operations and I want the people around me not on drugs or impaired in any way for my own personal safety. This is why I am ending the conversation. We need to agree to disagree, you have a very different perspective than me, that is your right and I respect that. I have my own position and expect you to return the favor and respect my opinion.
Jordan Genso December 17, 2011 at 12:34 PM
I have no problem ending the conversation, since it hasn't moved anywhere in about six comments. The only reason I brought up those other questions to which I knew you and I would agree (that it is not appropriate to test all school children), is to make a point about consistency. I did not in any way want to distract from the conversation, but show that your reasoning could just as easily apply to other situations, yet in those situations you would take the same conclusion as me. Consistency is a virtue, and I don't believe your position on this topic could be applied consistently. Also, I was a little irratated by your attempt to redefine my position as being in favor of "allow[ing] people to do illegal things (using drugs) and hid[e] under privacy concerns." It's the same questionable debate tactic as saying the ACLU is in favor of racism because they defend the KKK's right to peaceably assemble. Or saying that someone is in favor of allowing murderers to go free because they support the idea of innocent until proven guilty. My position is one based on the "means justifying the ends". Your position relies on the "ends justifying the means". Neither of those is inherently better. But I've tried to respectfully debate under your framing and try to show that you are misjudging what those ends would be, since we can "agree to disagree" on whether the means or ends should take precedence. I will not comment again unless someone asks me to.
Deborah Edwards-Onoro December 17, 2011 at 01:33 PM
Daryl, Matt, Not sure if I misunderstood your comments, but the study pointed out the State of Florida will spend an estimated $178 million to save $40,800 to $98,400 this year. I would not say that is a savings to the state of Florida.
Susie December 17, 2011 at 03:57 PM
Deborah, I am not sure, but it sounds like you believe the state will spend an estimated 178 million for testing to save 40,800 to 98,400 a year? By reading the article, I believe that it is saying the state pays 178 million a year to welfare recipents for benefits. Including the amount the state pays for testing they will save over 40 to 98,000. I don't believe the whole point of the test is to take money away from the poor. It is to take it away from those that are indeed on drugs and are not moving in a postive direction for themselves or the children that grow up in their households. I would again ask you to read about Liz Murray a child growing up with drug addicted parents. She and her sister lived off eating things like toothpaste after her parents blew through their welfare benefits in the first week to score drugs. If this testing is capable of not allowing children such as Liz to live in households such as these than why not? For me, saving just two child or a handful of children would be well worth it.
Matt Guarnieri December 17, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Florida initiated drug testing of welfare recipients and the result is that they will save 40,800.00 to 98,400.00 this year and probably every year after. How can you say that is NOT a savings to taxpayers? It IS a savings, and it helps keep tax dollars out of the hands of those people who are so addicted to drugs they couldn't pass a drug screening to apply for a real job. I know I only went to public school in Michigan but I thought if you spend LESS on something it is a savings and 40,800.00 to 98,400.00 is probably enough to help 20 extra families or more with food assistance in Florida. Not sure how even a liberal spin can allow for the comment you made.
Don Volaric December 17, 2011 at 07:30 PM
Jordan, Call me so I can explain. 586-322-8902 I tried to make it an easy read “are you smarter than a 5th grader" obviously this will need to be verbalized.
Poksanna December 18, 2011 at 02:58 PM
I don't think we should have welfare anymore - period. I think we should go back to using only charitable organizations and churches to assist those in need. I can donate my money and time to an organization that I feel represents my belief system best and it would probably be more efficient than any government program. Assistance is not a "right" and I don't like a government agency taking my money and suggesting to me that they know how to allocate my money better than I can.
dan rice December 18, 2011 at 06:16 PM
the state of Florida saw a very poor Return on Investment (ROI) on their program. A .0005% ROI would not pass needed financial benchmark at any corporation. Whatever your position on welfare, personal accountability, flat tires, etc, these programs must be understood as wasteful government spending.
Daryl Patrishkoff December 19, 2011 at 10:40 AM
Dan, In business the ROI is measured in months, how many months it takes to pay back the investment. Percentages are used to calculate the cost savings and profit, your calculations is flawed and does not represent how business would look at this situation. I know this firsthand, I have run large business operations as an owner, investor and earlier in my career reporting to board of directors of private and public companies. We assess projects like this every day to continually improve. How would business look at this program? It is an immediate cost savings project, you change what you do and get an immediate savings. In this case changing what you do will drop $40,000 to $100,000 in expenses per year, we call that "found money". Business would pick that up any day regardless of the percentage of total expenditures. It sets a continuous improvement and savings mentality so we can find more ways to be more efficient. Also in this case you add accountability elements which are not in place now; this has a positive outcome that does not cost you money. First you know these people are not using illegal drugs, they now have money to use for what it is intended for care. It also makes sure they are ready to take a job since it is a requirement to become employed. In business this is a continuous improvement project that does more with less and is called "Added Value". Business would jump at this change!
kidcat24 December 19, 2011 at 12:15 PM
I can't wait to get the results. Don't hold your breath, because there won't be any.
dan rice December 19, 2011 at 04:53 PM
while i appreciate the free business econ lesson and review of your resume, ROI can be measured using several different metrics. I am also involved in the financial viability of business proposals. Your own flawed viewpoint ignores the Opportunity Cost of the resources that were used to capture your "found money" (still .0005% of the investment). what could be done with that 178mm that would provide stronger benefit? Said another way, would you invest $17.80 of your own money to get a payback of <.01 cent?
Greg Kazmierski December 19, 2011 at 08:36 PM
The following article might clear up a thing or two regarding MICHIGAN'S welfare recipient data regarding drug/alcohol use vs. non-receiving population. Our population is quite different that Florida's. http://www.npc.umich.edu/publications/policy_briefs/brief02/
Greg Kazmierski December 19, 2011 at 08:40 PM
BTW- if you don't want to read the article, just scroll down. There is a nice graph you can view to get the idea.
kidcat24 December 19, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Such findings suggest that policymakers and advocates have likely overstated the extent to which substance abuse contributes to continuing dependence on cash aid.
kidcat24 December 19, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Conclusion While substance use, abuse, and dependence are barriers to self-sufficiency, so are poor education, lack of transportation, physical and mental health problems, and many other difficulties that are more common than substance abuse among welfare recipients. To date, most welfare-to-work programs have stressed acquisition of job search skills and rapid employment. Because many low-income mothers experience skills deficits and personal problems, including substance use disorders, more comprehensive programs are needed to move and sustain the most disadvantaged recipients on a path to self-sufficiency.
kidcat24 December 19, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Because substance use is a covert behavior, its true prevalence among the general and welfare population is unknown. Most studies have relied upon self-reports. Deceptive or inaccurate responses are therefore important concerns.
Greg Kazmierski December 19, 2011 at 08:56 PM
I would agree that money would be better spent on helping those get off of welfare as the article suggest . I guess while reading this thread I questioned Jordan Genso's continual use of facts (re: % using etc) without any "facts" appearing in his posts. I honestly don't have an opinion on the matter of drug testing, however, anyone that knows me, certainly knows that I can't let someone just say "these are the facts" without producing any. I googled and found a liberal university's (UM BTW - yuck) article showing a completely different view of Mr. Jenso. Take it for what its worth.
Greg Kazmierski December 19, 2011 at 08:59 PM
"llicit drug use and dependence are more common among women receiving welfare than among women who do not. Illicit drug use remains associated with welfare receipt even after controlling for race, educational attainment, region, and other potential confounders" from the article as well.
kidcat24 December 19, 2011 at 09:15 PM
I am just trying to figure out what will happen to these people. Signed just another caring human
kidcat24 December 19, 2011 at 09:16 PM
So you get rid of welfare for drug users and our taxes go down? No
Susie December 19, 2011 at 10:36 PM
These people that are not following the law and are on drugs will have to face their problems and clean their act up. In the case of Florida, people can reapply once they are clean. Are we really helping or hurting them by giving them benefits to continue on with their behavior? Not to mention the kids that are living in the household.
Susie December 19, 2011 at 10:40 PM
Is it really about our taxes going down? Or it it about the number of people that are able to be productive, yet they chose drugs as a way of life instead. It doesn't mean that everyone that collects benefits are on welfare...but wouldn't the money be better spent on individuals that are truly in need and are not getting benefits or their benefits are lower? I think there are many people that can remember the days when welfare recipents sold their cheese that was meant to feed their families in the 70s so they could buy booze and cigarettes. They do the same thing with bridge cards :(
Jordan Genso December 20, 2011 at 01:49 AM
I tried to make it clear that I was basing most of my "ends" argument from what we have seen in Florida. I even stated that if there is evidence showing a causal relationship between drug use and need for assistance, that it would invalidate my counterpoint to Daryl's "ends" argument (that drug testing would help them be better able to get a job). I am very glad you posted the study that you did. One thing I would point out is that while it showed evidence contrary to what I was saying about those on welfare using drugs at a lower rate, it reaffirmed the notion that getting them off drugs would do little to get them off welfare. Since making those on assistance better able to get a job was the basis for Daryl's position, I think the study you linked to works against his argument as well. I'm sorry I didn't make it more apparent what facts I was referring to when mentioning them (the numbers from Florida). I try to be more cognizant of the idea that each individual post of mine should have cites if facts are stated. As a side note, I am curious which letter from UofM you are referencing, as I wrote two letters to the editor when I was 19. One of them probably ticked off the LGBT community & African-American community, while the other probably ticked off the religious community. Needless to say, I quickly learned that writing for "shock value" is an immature action :-) Go Blue
kidcat24 December 20, 2011 at 12:42 PM
Well, that is what I hear all the time from people. I don't want to pay for them? So yes it is about taxes.
georgine martin December 31, 2011 at 02:52 PM
Drugs are expensive too - I have no problem helping the sick or unemployed - the unemployed should be working after llooking for a job...however, why look when you get more money than you would working - sickly people have every right to help - I don't think we help enough - however, those sick with alcohol and drug abuse I have no pity for and no money - I have to get my own needles for insulin - but druggies can get needles free - go figure..... I resent my money being used by those who refuse a drug test....they should have to make a choice......welfare or drugs - my rights are being violated too......... I don't want to pay for them but I have to and they don't have to take drug tests... they get a choice; I don't.....


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »