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    Drug testing is necessary to make sure welfare money isn’t being wasted


    Drug testing welfare applicants costs more money than it saves

    Performing drug tests on applicants to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program actually costs states more than it saves -- and is constitutionally dubious.

    For four months in 2011, Florida required TANF applicants to pay for their own drug tests and then refunded money to those who tested negative. According to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, the program resulted in a net loss for the state. The New York Times reported:

    Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, [the ACLU’s Derek Newton] said.

    As a result, the testing cost the government an extra $45,780, he said.

    Studies by Idaho, New York, and Maryland all concluded that such drug testing would not be cost-effective.

    In addition, the Florida program ended after four months because a federal judge found it unconstitutional. A federal appeals court did the same in 2003 with a similar program in Michigan, in a ruling that also covered Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.