Despite criticism for the plan, Governor Scott Walker still intends to pursue a drug testing requirement for many individuals receiving public assistance.
While on the campaign trail the governor proposed drug testing for those receiving taxpayer-funded assistance, such as food stamps and unemployment benefits. Critics argue the plan could violate federal laws, and the governor says that is a concern he plans to address. “In most of my budget discussions we’ve had lawyers as a part of it when it comes to this topic, because we want to make sure whatever we put in place is ultimately upheld, if there is indeed a court challenge,” Walker told WRN in a one-on-one interview.
Drug testing requirements in other states have faced legal challenges. While the specific details of his proposal are still being worked out, Walker insists tying the measure to helping people gain employment could allow him to achieve the results he’s looking for. The state already has job search requirements in place for many people who are receiving federal food assistance and unemployment benefits.
Other states have also seen massive price tags tied to drug testing programs, with very few people actually identified as drug users through the process. Walker believes it can be done at minimal cost to Wisconsin taxpayers, although he did not indicate how.
The governor maintains the drug testing proposal is not about punishing those on public assistance, but ensuring those receiving benefits are doing all they can to take the jobs employers in the state are having a hard time filling. Walker says he hears from employers who have open jobs, but can’t find people with “basic employability” skills or, in industries such as transportation and manufacturing, who can pass a drug test.
The governor is expected to introduce his proposal when he unveils his state budget proposal to lawmakers in February.