A controversial drug testing proposal will remain in the state budget.
The legislature’s Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday approved requiring those receiving some categories of public benefits to submit to drug testing. Those who fail would get taxpayer funded treatment, which Joint Finance Committee co-chair John Nygren (R-Marinette) said will help them break the cycle of addiction and become employed. The Marinette Republican said “it’s a better alternative than our corrections department. It’s a better alternative than ending up on welfare for God knows how long.”
Democrats spent over an hour criticizing the proposal, noting that Wisconsin is unlikely to receive the waiver that would be needed to keep federal funding from being jeopardized. State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) called it a “half-baked” idea, which does not have the support it needs in place to make it work. She also noted that the cost of the program remains unclear at this point.
Democrats said the requirement would also face an almost certain court challenge, as it has in other states, likely costing Wisconsin taxpayers even more money to defend it.
The budget provision was adopted on a party-line vote.