In a four-month period last year when Florida required welfare applicants to undergo drug testing, the program yielded no savings, caught few drug users, and did not affect the number of people who applied, The New York Times reports.
The program was halted after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida sued the state to stop it. The group obtained state data that showed from July through October 2011, 2.6 percent of welfare applicants failed the drug test, and an additional 40 people did not take the test.
Applicants paid the cost of the test, an average of $30. If they passed, the state reimbursed them. The cost to Florida was $118,140 for drug tests—more than would have been paid out in benefits to those who failed the test, according to Derek Newton, Communications Director for the ACLU of Florida. He said the testing cost the government an additional $45,780.
Georgia instituted a similar law this week. It is expected to face legal challenges. A number of other states are considering similar measures, according to the newspaper.
Florida passed a bill earlier this year that would test state workers for drugs. Florida Governor Rick Scott is delaying implementation of the law in response to legal challenges. The bill would be the first of its kind in the country. It would allow up to 10 percent of state employees to be randomly tested every three months. The measure also would make it easier to fire a worker who had a single confirmed positive drug test.
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