Governor Scott Walker’s state budget plan is expected to require drug testing for some public benefits applicants. The provision – described as a way to help move people from government dependence to independence – was contained in a workforce development plan released by the governor’s last month.
But is it constitutional? State Representative Chris Taylor, a Madison Democrat, doesn’t think so.
There are other issues as well, according to Marquette University political scientist Charles Franklin. “All of the analysis I’ve seen of it in other states suggests that it has very little effect on the number of people receiving public assistance, and is sometimes fairly costly to implement,” Franklin said.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi indicated on Monday that he might sue over Walker’s proposal to require drug testing for recipients of public health care, food stamp and jobless benefits. “People who fall on hard times should not be treated like criminals; they should be treated like people who have fallen on hard times: with dignity and respect. Requiring someone who has just been laid off from their job to pee in a cup is not treating people in a dignified manner; it is degrading and insulting,” said a statement from Parisi.
Walker’s administration has said that those who fail the drug test will be offered the opportunity to participate in a drug treatment program, free of charge, as well as job training. The Governor is scheduled to deliver his 2015-’17 budget Tuesday night.