By Alicia Caldwell
Editorial Writer, DenverPost.com

I can’t say I was surprised to see this New York Times story conclude Florida gleaned no savings from drug-testing welfare recipients.

In fact, after benefits savings and drug-testing expenses were accounted for, the policy ended up costing Florida’s state government nearly $46,000.

But the facts haven’t gotten in the way of retribution politics in Georgia, where a similar law was instituted this week. It’s an idea that unfortunately has gotten traction in two dozen states, including Colorado, where it ultimately was shot down.

In an editorial in February, we called the idea irresponsible policy that would run roughshod over the privacy rights of poor people.

It also was projected to cost Colorado money, were it to have been enacted. An analysis by the non-partisan Colorado legislative council found that when costs and savings were accounted for, the policy change would have added $219,520 to Colorado’s budget, and it would have forced counties to spend $482,600.

There are also significant civil rights concerns, and the Florida effort has been held up in federal court on a temporary injunction.

So, bottom line is that these efforts cost money to implement and raise serious questions about whether they violate constitutional protections. Why, then, are they so popular? Sadly, it seems, financially difficult times motivate some to take out their frustrations on the most vulnerable among us.

MY TURN !

I am amazed that people like Caldwell get paid to write such rubbish. I never saw these laws as ways of cutting costs or “retribution” and PLEASE do not try to smear me with one political agenda or another. As a physician, I believe that we cannot and should not support those that use public monies to purchase illegal drugs. It means that the money intended to provide shelter and clothing and food beyond food stamps for families and in my head – especially for children is being diverted to get high. Maybe drugs should be regulated and legalized- maybe not, but, no matter, bucks to drugs are bucks taken away from children and other needy members of a family. This is not an “irresponsible policy that would run roughshod over the privacy rights of poor people.” If you take public money, then you should be ACCOUNTABLE.

C’mon Alicia! Why would you support taking resources- food, shelter and clothing from poor people when they most need it in a disastrous economy?! People are out of work and cannot get jobs. Why give money to drug users? Why do we have to support their habits? We need to continue to support programs like WIC and we need to determine how to BEST use public dollars to grow a strong American youth and to help those that are TRULY in need and realistically there is hope for them in the future. There is a limited amount of resources available and they should not be squandered on drug users who are diverting funds we award them for subsistence. I am not blaming drug users. I do not want to “get even”. I just want welfare to go for WELFARE. Get real Alicia. You and your “kind” are of the same cut as the far right. You are turning around the issues to work within your agenda. This is and should be about helping those who need it. You know employees in government and industry get periodic testing. You can’t even get a job in many places today without a drug test. Why should welfare recipients be any different? You want help? You need help? Let’s help, but, you have to live by certain rules. I support fighting in the courts any legal battle that is intended to overthrow accountability in our country.