The United States is founded on freedom, where everyone has an opportunity. It is a place where success and happiness are attainable through one’s own will. Seizing opportunity and gaining success is the rewarding principle of the American dream.
Gov. Scott Walker and the state legislature hope to preserve this principle through their proposal of drug testing public assistance applicants. Drug testing public assistance applicants not only helps ensure that the unemployed are eligible for employment, but also promotes constructive behavior that is desirable in the workforce.
A proposal to implement drug testing for applicants for programs such as FoodShare and BadgerCare Plus was proposed as part of Walker’s biennial budget. Drug testing would be administered specifically for childless adults on BadgerCare and able-bodied adults without dependents (not children or the elderly) for the FoodShare employment training program. If the individual tests positive, the state then provides treatment and job training at no cost for their benefit.
The idea behind drug testing is to help the unemployed recover from their financial misfortunes and to help prepare them for Wisconsin’s workforce.
According to a Department of Workforce Development report, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is down to five percent as of January 2015. The good news? Not only is Wisconsin’s unemployment low, but there are still an estimated 67,000 jobs to fill. However, Wisconsin employers lack qualified workers to fill these jobs.
Many of these Wisconsin employers subject their employees to random drug tests. Those who are seeking work should be held to the same standards that an employer would deem necessary for hire. A qualified employee would certainly be drug free.
Many opponents to drug testing public assistance applicants argue drug testing is unnecessary because many applicants are not drug users. The Substance Abuse Policy Research Program reported 20 percent of welfare recipients admitted to using illict drugs. The idea behind drug testing is to lower the number of recipients who use illegal drugs or those who are dependent on them. One cannot become independent from the federal government if he or she is dependent on an illegal substance.
Those opposed to the drug testing proposal also believe this new program will cost millions. However, as Medicaid Director of the State Department of Health Services Kevin Moore explained, it is “premature” to say how much drug testing might cost. The actual costs of drug testing cannot be determined yet, not only because the state biennial budget has not yet been passed, but also because the state of Wisconsin needs to apply to the federal government for waivers. It is important to keep the budget and policy for drug testing flexible in order to negotiate with the federal government.
The drug testing policy could actually save money. Identifying drug users and providing them with treatment prepares individuals for the workforce and financial independence. This could potentially lead to fewer individuals dependent on government aid and could ensure that only those who truly need the aid receive it.
Additionally, a drug testing policy also creates more savings, as more people are more likely to stay out of jail when they are off drugs.
The policies on drug testing differ from state to state, but Wisconsin’s proposed program is unique in that it is not punitive. Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have proposed this plan not with the aim to punish, but rather to empower people to become independent from the government. Without this plan in place, drug users would otherwise be dependent on government for most of their lives, which is not fulfilling.
Drug testing public assistance applicants in Wisconsin would promote constructive behavior among the unemployed. This constructive behavior begins to shape individuals who have potential to not only be eligible employees, but also reliable ones.
This proposal promotes the American dream among the unemployed. It helps them become qualified workers who can seize one of the 67,000 job opportunities our state has to offer, and truly enjoy their independence.
Emelia Rohl ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science and creative writing and is a freshman representative on the College Republicans executive board.
Read the counterpoint from the College Democrats:
Point counterpoint: Drug testing those on public assistance is immoral, economically inefficientAfter trumpeting the tuition freeze during his campaign as a commitment to college affordability, Gov. Scott Walker announced cuts to the University Read…