ATLANTA –Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) Chief Executive Officer Tarren Bragdon traveled to Atlanta, Georgia today to present results of Florida’s welfare cash drug testing law at a legislative hearing on a bill to enact similar requirements in the Peach State.
Georgia State Representative Jason Spencer, sponsor of HB 668, invited Bragdon to testify in support of his bill after studying earlier FGA research on Florida’s welfare cash drug testing requirement. FGA analysis of state-generated data from the first quarter of the Florida law showed a 48 percent drop in monthly cash assistance approvals and a drug-related denial rate of 19 percent. In all, Florida taxpayers saved an estimated $1.8 million.
In December, Bragdon gave a similar presentation on Florida’s welfare cash drug testing law to the Health and Human Services Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council, an association of public, private and non-profit policy leaders who collaborate to develop ideas that address common challenges faced by the states.
“Drug testing ensures taxpayers’ generosity won’t fund illegal drug addiction by setting reasonable parameters for welfare cash,” Bragdon explained. “Florida’s law proves this welfare accountability measure achieves major taxpayer savings. It preserves benefits for the truly needy, and keeps children safer by no longer enabling meth moms and dope dads with no-strings welfare cash. Representative Spencer’s bill will accomplish these same positive results.”
Like Florida’s law, the Georgia bill requires welfare cash applicants test negative for drug use before receiving welfare dollars and compels the state Department of Health and Human Services to provide a list of area drug treatment facilities to applicants who test positive. The Georgia bill specifically exempts applicants’ drug testing results from public records laws and criminal investigations.
“It’s critical for both taxpayers, and for the children state welfare programs are meant to protect that welfare cash assistance is not used to subsidize an illegal addiction. My bill in Georgia is one part of a broad and important nation-wide movement toward welfare accountability,” Rep. Spencer said. “I’m grateful the Foundation for Government Accountability has done such great work researching the success of Florida’s law. Tarren’s testimony is important for my colleagues in the Georgia Assembly to hear and understand.”
According to recent media reports, up to 37 states are considering welfare cash drug testing. Besides Florida, Arizona and Missouri have already passed such legislation. Many reject the activist ruling of pro-addict federal Judge Mary Scriven temporarily halting Florida’s law. State leaders understand her decree—criticized by legal scholars and child advocates—is wrong and puts kids at risk. Governor Rick Scott has appealed her decision.
“The success of Florida’s welfare cash drug testing law is clear, and I am encouraged that Georgia and other states are headed in the same direction,” Bragdon said. “Representative Spencer should be commended for his leadership on this important issue. The Foundation for Government Accountability supports his efforts, and the work of other state leader looking to protect kids and save taxpayer dollars.”
Chris Cinquemani, Vice President
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