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Report: Rick Scott's welfare drug tests could save FL $9m

Lost in the condemnation of Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to drug test welfare recipients to save the state money is the deterrence effect, according to a new report from the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative-leaning think tank.

Estimated savings: $9 million, according to the group's analysis of Florida Department of Children and Families data. 

"Applicants who are drug users have a big incentive to never get tested at all (since the TCA application requires that all drug test results are reported to DCF)," the report noted. It said that a high number of applicants finished every step in the welfare-benefits application process except for one: getting drug tested.

One piece of data that might be missing is how common it was for applicants to not follow through with the application process/acceptance of benefits prior to the new drug-testing law going into effect. Regardless, the number of so-called "drug-related denials" is up.

The foundation's report, which wound up in my junk folder (thanks gmail spam filter) hasn't yet been vetted. But it's sure to become part of the state's defense in the lawsuit brought by the liberal-leaning American Civil Liberties Union. At the least, the report strongly suggests the law is weeding out some applicants:

"From the perspective of the applicant, to not complete the application process is better (and cheaper) than testing positive for drug use and definitively losing eligibility for six months to a year. Almost all drug-related denials by DCF are for missing drug test results. According to DCF, in July there were only 9 applicants denied for a drug-related reason, but the number of drug-related denials climbed to 565 in August (reflecting the one month lag). Of these 574 total drug-related denials, only 9 were for a positive test. Almost all remaining applicants never completed a drug test even though these individuals completed all other steps in the application process and were determined eligible once DCF received negative drug test results. As previously noted, it can be assumed that all drug-related denials in July 2011 (9) and August 2011 (565) were for July applicants, given the time lag for closed applications due to missing drug test results....

"For July, 9.6 percent of otherwise qualified applicants for cash assistance were denied for a drug-related reason. With an approximate annual savings to the state of $1,608 per drug-related denial (see Table 3), these 574 denials from July 2011 represent annualized savings to Florida taxpayers of $922,992. The cost of reimbursing the 5,390 approved applicants with a negative drug test ($30 average for each) reduces this annualized savings figure by $161,700, for a net savings to taxpayers of $761,292 for the first month of the program alone. Since Florida’s initial denial rate is 9.6 percent, the State is currently saving an estimated $5.71 on drug testing for every $1 it spends reimbursing approved applicants with negative drug tests who ultimately receive cash assistance. If these July trends continue throughout the first year, the drug testing requirement will save Florida taxpayers $9,135,504 from July 2011 through June 2012."




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How much you want to bet we get utter silence on this from the leftwingers?


I worked for DCF for many years and the number of those who do not complete the full process has always been high. It's a long red tape process that many people still don't feel proud to be going through anyway. Thus many start but do not complete the process the first go around. However, often they end up having to come back and start over becuase need will eventually overcome their pride. So, these numbers are very misleading. Also, the savings being touted does not take into account the amount of money the state is spending to refund the money applicants spend for the drug test since almost all have passed. Basically the State of Florida is paying big bucks to the medical industry for all this testing so we are actually way in the negitive folks. Due to all this testing, we are spending way more toward welfare than ever before. The truth is, welfare = drug use is a big misconception.


Another Florida paper did it's homework and found that "In fact, just nine out of the 5,964 applicants (0.15 percent) actually failed the drug test, and 565 never took the test". Which means the state would save $14,472 on the nine that failed their drug test, while it cost the state $161,700.


Ha Ha! Won't it be funny when the ACLU sues the state for requiring the test, which is evidence of criminality and will be used to prosecute! Ha Ha! That will be a real tickler!


don't poor people have to pay for the test? maybe their not scared of failing, but lacking the $$$ to complete the process.


ooops, they're


Florida's Repepublicans are 100% nazis. Are the poor just suppose to die? How about drug testing Rick Scott. You fascists would be better off in Germany!!!!!! Heil Scott

rick scott

geez, can't we just kill the poor already?


I read the report, it basically tries to count those who didn't complete the process as "dirty" and thus money saved. This isn't even a stretch, it is a bald faced lie.

The previous poster is more accurate. Only 9 out of 5000+ applicants were found dirty. Another Right wing lie busted, too bad it is costing the state of florida big bucks to learn first hand the failure of conservative stereotypes. Rick Scott needs to be given the BOOT


If they pass the test they are reimbursed for the cost. If they fail they are given information on how to combat their drug problem. There is no doubt that the state will save money. However, more importantly is that the state will not pay for drug use.

Also, the fact that the paperwork is long is not relevant as they completed everything But the drug test. So the conclusion can be drawn that many believed they would not pass and therefore did not take it.


The conservative think tank assumes that the hundreds that did not show for their drug test would have tested positive. This is an error in their assumption, since the months before drug testing started there would be applicants who completed all the paperwork but never went on to receive benefits. So the assumption by the think tank is all the applicants prior to drug testing who completed their paperwork and then refused to accept state money because they found a job, or whatever reason, are now considered positive for drug test they never took! Looks like the think tank is trying to manipulate the numbers. Bottom line is 9 people failed a drug test, and it cost the state over $150,000.00 to find 9.


2007 was the las year I worked in the Florida public schools as a assisant teacher in Pasco county. I never had to take a drug test. Further more many of the family's I worked with revived assistants. So it is ok for your teachers to do drugs but not the family's they care for. That makes sence. Maybe we could just say teachers don't ever do drugs. Or maybe taking care of all them bad kids gives them the right. In fact the school I worked at still had a staff smoking section, although I never saw anyone fire up a joint back there why the hell not, after all maybe some of them would have not been so stressed out. Just goes to show you how uninformed you haters are.

Another point I want to make being on SSDI. Pot is not legal in my state! However top notch doctors have recommend I smoke pot for medical treatment. I chose not to how ever if I would try it and it worked it could save the tax payers as much as and maybe even more then $500.00 a month on medications that could be cut down on or even replaced by pot. Medicare part D pays for the medications now
I pay $6.30 or $2.50 for each one pur month. One of the medications that could be cut down on without insurance is over $800.00 a month. Now if I had the money I could try pot, spent $50.00 out of my SSDI check and save lots of tax payers money.
Believe me I wish I could work, as I did for over 20 years. But I could no longer hold a job. My SSDI went through the first time that should say alot about my health. But being able to work vs being in pain and sick stuck in my small one bed room apartment most of the time. I would work, you take my health I get yours. Then you don't take your doctors advive for fear of the laws.


To "Jim". - "So the conclusion can be drawn that many believed they would not pass and therefore did not take it."
If in the process is they only have to pay for the Drug test upfront and no other part of the process is costing them money, then the logical conclusion would be that they do not have the money to pay upfront and have to wait to be reimbursed.
I work in this business and meet people who hope to have the money by the time they get to that step but many just do not. This is why they are asking for assistance in the first place. And by the way... ever saying things like "There is no doubt that the state will save money." is wrong. This is never ever a given. I've heard this statement used to give money to private companies so many times but when you look at the real books, it has never held true. Private companies are all about profit and only about profit. That is why so many abandoned their responsibilities during the great depression. No profits were being made. This is also why the New Deal created so many Government jobs. It was the only way to stabilize our country and put enough people back into secure jobs to right the ship. The cigar smoking Barons of the day who helped cause the depression lost their grasp on things then and their decedents have longed to wrench back control. They have spent a lot of years figuring out how to hypnotize people into thinking Government is too big and all Government workers are bad. Wake up people; we are giving the ship back to the rats. It's not the Government workers we need to worry about, it's the politicians who are being bought by the wealthy to push their agendas. An easy way to combat this trickery is simple, start reading the history books.

Think Twice

Hooray for Florida.

Other than knee-jerk insulting comments, like saying "why not just kill the poor" do any of you who object to this law have a good reason why working people trying to make a living, feed their own families, provide for health care, pay for education and try to retire should be supporting those that use illegal, recreational drugs.

Can anyone give me one good reason? Taking these drugs is a choice- and they spend money to do it. Make better choices.

And for the idiots that say this law is "unconstitutional" show me a constitutional right to receive welfare at all.


The drug testing is not a bad idea, but some feel the state should pay for the testing, and like all ideas implemented to weed out some fraudulent applicants. The state fails to realize that the participants will soon or already have a way to bypass the barriers put before them in the past. If you think about it they still have the payee, who can received benefits for more than one family at a time.


I am a very Liberal person, but I can not say that i support this enough!Drug test all of them! If i have to get drug tested to get a job and put into the system they can certainly get drug tested to take out of it.


I have to be drug tested to get a job to earn a living. If I don't pass I don't get the job. How is this any different?

They are reimbursed if they pass, so they are not losing any money.

I can only see a "win win" situation here.


The report cited from the Foundation for Government Accountability was written expressly to make it look like the program saved money, to make Rick Scott look good. The author Tarren Bragdon is CEO of the 'Foundation' and it was incorporated as a non-profit on 6/27/11. He was formerly CEO of Maine Heritage Policy Center and part of Gov. LePage's transition team, and was expressly invited to come to FL and create such a nifty shilling organization. Basically it is a fraud/front organization for a PAC, but calls itself a "non-profit" so it doesn't have to do financial disclosures.

Lab Testing

The main point you have to understand is that they approached all this incorrectly. I don't think they are saying that poor do more drugs - it is more so that our tax dollars should not be wasted on drugs if it is occurring, which it is regardless of class bashing. That 2.7% may sound small, but it's a pretty big dent in the drug dealing market. Consider the abuse EBT cards are having in GA right now (if you don't know, look it up). The thing is, if we work hard and we are tested at our companies right now, why shouldn't somebody who is getting free money from our money be tested. I would rather know that the government has instilled regulations to prevent abuse of funds; and yes, ALL politicians and government employees should be tested on a random basis - purely hypocritical if they are not because THAT is our tax money "at work"....

Wayne Martin

When just one person, who has tested positive, gets denied one-hundred will heed the message. This has long been the message of the IRS audit. One test is worth a hundred who will listen. So let's not talk about the cost of justice. Would we deem cops too expensive compared to how many go through a red light. As long as working people get tested to get paid there is no civil liberty violated here.

Tony M

9 recipients failed multiply that by 6 months equals what? multiply 574 recipients who did not complete the process multiply that by 6 months equals what? The long term deterrent will save the state of Florida $$$ in the long run. Plus the state of Florida is setting the example for the rest of the country to follow. Maybe this will save the country from the financial debt it is in. If we implemented bill through out the country for a span of 2.5 years, imagine what this nation would be capable of doing. I pay my taxes just like the thousands of readers. Support the cause!!! echo it to everyone...


Yes!!!! I wish all the states would drug test for individuals receiving government handouts. I don't even care if it doesn't save the tax payers that much money. I just can't deal with the idea that my tax dollars are funding somebody's drug habit. Get sober/clean and get a job like the rest of us who are paying taxes!


Sometime people only need to be on assistance for a short time like my daughter who had a baby, that is in the Army National Guard, she does not do drugs and it's heart breaking that she has even had to ask for help like this but she now has a baby to take of, but to take drug test and pay for them to boot, for what her tax dollars were paying for to begin with wow. So my thoughts are if these families fail a drug test and have child do public assistance notify the police to have the children remove and all privacy in these cases get thrown out the window? If so what has this country come to?

Cookie Monster

Applicants pay for the test up front but if they pass, they get reimbursed. Yes it's a cost on a poor individual but it's what has to be done. Sure don't want our tax dollars paying for failures. That's the whole point. In addition, the cost of reimbursement was much smaller than the estimated cost of savings. Sure some of the applicants backed out for non drug related but I doubt it was that many. Most knew they would fail and maybe some will come back later but clean and in the right frame of mind to be more employable. The whole concept sounds very responsible to tax payers. It's something that should be done nation wide.

Drug Test Friend

I'm trying to figure our exactly how Rick Scott's plan is going to save this amount of money. If anything, it's going to cost the state that amount just to impliment his bill.

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