When The Worst Governors Get Bad Ideas, Rick Scott Edition
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) came up with an idea he considered pretty clever. First, he told Floridians that people on welfare were more likely to be drug addicts. What did Scott base this on? Nothing in particular -- he seemed to just make it up -- but Scott was quite fond of the argument.
Second, the governor approved a policy based on his faulty assumptions: those who apply for welfare benefits will have to pass a state-mandated drug test. How's that working out? Not well.
Since the state began testing welfare applicants for drugs in July, about 2 percent have tested positive, preliminary data shows.
Ninety-six percent proved to be drug free -- leaving the state on the hook to reimburse the cost of their tests.
As part of the Scott administration policy, those applying for benefits have to pay a $30 out-of-pocket fee to pay for the drug test. If they pass, Florida reimburses them.
And while the state saves some money by not making benefits available to those 2% who fail the test, Florida is forced to reimburse everyone else, plus pay for staff and administrative costs for the drug-testing program, plus pay the legal fees associated with the likely court challenge.
This really wasn't a great idea.
I'd also note for context that Rick Scott's drug-testing policy is limited to low-income Floridians needing temporary aid. It doesn't, in other words, apply to everyone seeking public funding -- only the poor, who the governor assumes are probably drug-addicts.
And speaking of the nation's worst governor, remember the $2.4 billion Florida was set to receive for high-speed rail? The project that enjoyed bipartisan support and was going to create tens of thousands of jobs? With Scott rejecting the funding, the money has now been officially reallocated for rail upgrades in the Northeast, high-speed rail in the Midwest, and related projects in California.
Florida's unemployment rate is only 10.7%. It's not like the state needed the boost.