As Predicted, Florida Loses Money On Gov. Scott's Welfare Drug Testing Scheme

August 24, 2011 3:31 pm ET — Kate Conway

For all his self-acclaimed business acumen, Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) has a pretty dismal track record when it comes to handling taxpayers' money, and since assuming the governorship he's been busy tampering with the finances and well-being of the Sunshine State.  Under Scott's direction, the state of Florida has mandated that citizens must be drug tested in order to qualify for welfare benefits. Welfare applicants must pay for the tests out of their own pockets, but are reimbursed by the state if they test negative.

Now that the policy has been implemented, local Florida news source reports that the amount central Florida's Department of Children and Families has had to pay out for the drug tests exceeds the amount it's saving in denied benefits:

Just six weeks after Florida began drug testing welfare applicants, WFTV uncovered numbers, which show that the program is already costing Central Florida taxpayers more than it saves. [...]

The Department of Central Florida's (DCF) region tested 40 applicants and only two tested positive for drugs, officials said. One of the tests is being appealed. [...]

DCF said it has been referring applicants to clinics where drug screenings cost between $30 and $35. The applicant pays for the test out of his or her own pocket and then the state reimburses him if they test comes back negative.

Therefore, the 38 applicants in the Central Florida area, who tested negative, were reimbursed at least $30 each and cost taxpayers $1,140.

Meanwhile, the state is saving less than $240 a month by refusing benefits to those two applicants who tested positive.

As Political Correction pointed out during Scott's campaign, a number of other states had looked into similar programs and deemed them to be "not cost-effective," and that's pretty much what anyone who bothered to study welfare drug testing proposals concluded. But Scott and the Florida's Republican-heavy legislature preferred to allow policy to be driven by an ideological perspective that assumes the worst of the poor and disadvantaged.