Did this Governor just endorse a new law to require drug testing for those receiving welfare and unemployment benefits?

December 7, 2012

Texas' top two leaders on Tuesday endorsed a change in state law to require first-ever mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients and those receiving unemployment assistance.

Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said the move would keep welfare recipients from spending money on illegal drugs, instead of necessary living expenses for which it is intended, and would cut down on unemployment costs to businesses for unemployed Texans who cannot pass a drug test.

At least 23 other states including Florida have either implemented a similar change or are considering it, as welfare reform has become a key issue among conservatives and in cash-strapped states looking to tighten elegibility criteria and to curb abuses.

"Texas taxpayers will not subsidize or tolerate illegal drug abuse," Perry said at a morning press conference to announce his support of the change. "Every dollar that goes to someone who uses it inappropriately is a dollar that can't go to a Texan who needs it for housing, child care or medicine. Being on drugs makes it much harder to begin the journey to independence, which only assures individuals remain stuck in the terrible cycle of drug abuse and poverty."

Dewhurst, noting he is the only "traditional business owner" among the state's ladership who has had experience with hiring difficulties in the private workplace, said there are cases where businesses offer jobs to job candidates, only to have them flunk drug tests. In other cases, he said, applicants turn down jobs or ask that their start date be delayed so they can continue collecting a state unemployment check for several additional weeks.

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