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This State Wants All Food Stamp Users to Take a Drug Test

People in line for food stamps

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is planning to move forward with his plan to drug test food stamp applicants, even though it has not been approved by the federal government. Those who fail the test will be required to undergo rehabilitation, paid for by the state, or lose their benefits. The move has raised many flags on many levels, including legality, constitutionality, and cost.

Governor is moving forward without government approval

Many states have tried mandatory drug testing of food stamp recipients before and failed because they were stopped by the federal government. Walker claims he can enforce the rule without federal approval, stating that the new drug testing is a way to put more drug-free workers into the workplace. But, examine the facts.

The facts:
  • It is estimated that only .3 percent of food stamp applicants would test positive for drugs. That's about 220 people out of 67,400 applicants.
  • The plan would cost $867,000 to treat those testing positive.
  • The cost would be paid for by the state, federal government and private insurers.
  • Federal courts and the government have blocked such rules in the past by other states.
  • The rule is considered unconstitutional because it violates the rights of food stamp recipients.
  • It is considered a violation of federal law governing the food stamp program.

Yet, Walker is seemingly moving forward on his own to implement mandatory drug testing of all childless adults as well as parents of children age 6-18. Will the federal government step in? Most likely they will, as they have will all past states who have tried to implement similar rules on drug testing of welfare recipients. If Walker would gain approval, his state would be the first to do so. But the odds are heavily stacked against him.

To learn more about Wisconsin's FoodShare (food stamp) program, visit www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/foodshare/index.htm

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