Wisconsin Will Start Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

| by Robert Fowler
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has approved an administrative rule that will implement a drug testing program for those seeking welfare benefits, primarily job training. The drug testing program will begin on Nov. 9.

The administrative rule was submitted to Walker's office by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Administrative rules are proposals from state agencies that become law once given a governor's approval, according to The Cap Times.

Beginning Nov. 9, those who seek employment through state-run programs may be asked to undergo a drug test. If the applicant fails, they can still receive benefits if they agree to undergo a drug treatment program, according to The Cap Times.

This new policy can be applied to recipients of food stamps and unemployment insurance, the Cap Times reports.

Wisconsin will be joining 13 other states that have already installed similar drug testing policies for welfare recipients. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The money to fund the program was approved by the state legislature in July.

“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,” Walker writes in a press release posted on his office's website.

“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.”

Critics of the new program claim that drug testing welfare recipients is ineffective and wastes taxpayer dollars.

For instance, analysis of data conducted by ThinkProgress found that less than 1 percent of welfare recipients tested positive when given a drug test in the states of Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Utah.