DSS Commish: Connecticut Might Consider Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

An issue that is becoming a hot topic of conversation is whether welfare recipients should be tested for drug abuse.   Right now, the state of Florida is considering making such testing a law.   The argument is that people who are being supported by taxpayers, shouldn’t be using illegal drugs.

This morning during a taping of “Face the State with Dennis House,” on WFSB-TV,  Connecticut Commissioner of Social Services Roderick Bremby said  he would not rule out testing on people who are receiving  federal assistance to determine whether they are taking drugs.     During this morning’s appearance,  Bremby had this to say:

                  “We will take a look at what they are doing in Florida……but the Governor has found there is a smaller proportion of people who apply for federal assistance who use drugs than general population.   It is a huge waste of government resources to test people.”    But he added:  ” If it is cost effective we might consider it, but I don’t believe that that welfare recipients are more  drug users than anyone else.”


Bremby also conceded it is possible some scammers who waited in long lines earlier this week, received federal assistance intended for victims of Tropical Storm Irene:   http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/state-concedes-scammers-may-have-received-storm-handouts/


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  1. i receive public assistance and would not mind if they decided to drug test me!! i don’t do drugs or drink! i say as a ct resident go for it!! why should tax payers have to pay for people to be on it if they do illegal drugs?

    • I receive public assistance and I think this is a violation of my civil rights! Tax payers should not have to pay for people to be on public assistance if they do illegal drugs, however, the state has inadequate resources to get these people treatment! Did you receive the latest update in the mail regarding vision and dental for people over 21? You get 1 dental checkup a YEAR and you will only get new glasses if your prescription has changed dramatically since the year before! What kind of crap is that????????!!!!!!!!!!!! The state does not have the money to drug test every recipient and its also not cost-effective. The way I see it, if they want to do drugs, who cars, the drugs will kill them faster than their lack of proper nutrition from the minimal food stamp money they receive! I think more should be done to get them off assistance, like proper education, instill new ways of thinking to these people who continue to have babies so they don’t have to work, funding for college, etc. Our state needs to attract better employers who would offer attractive pay, benefits, etc so we would WANT the jobs that are here. My employer recently cut my hours from full time to part time and I have spent the last 3 1/2 years trying to find a better job, but they don’t exist here because instead of attracting employers we (as a state) are scaring them away! Who would want to run a business here? Our taxes are WAY too high and the cost of living is astronomical!!!!!!!

      • How can it not be cost effective? Drug testing is cheap, quick and easy, and if you boot 1 in 100 out that saves 10’s of $1,000’s as for rights, well if you want the money you give that up. You are right about more needing to be done to get people off assistance but as a taxpayer who has never recieved and only paid and paid and paid for people who do not deserve it or abuse it, the way to get the payroll smaller is to crack down on abuse and enforce the rules, not more funding, but use what is available better. The abuse and mis-use is as you know, rampant and instead of stepping up reform, our governor has cut hours and budgets for DSS enforcement. As for complaining about the benefits that I pay dearly for you to have while I struggle to pay for my own childrren to get dental care, is ingrateful, and really makes me sick. How about you start your comments with thank you taxpayers, I am so happy not to live in a box on the street, thank you for the food stamps, and thank you for working so hard to pay your taxes so I can eat, and I hope you have enough money left so that you can feed yourself and family.

  2. I can imagine Republican legislators will eagerly support an even more expanded proposal that subjects CEOs of companies taking state subsidies to drug tests, too! Right, guys?

    • Ummmm, Bremby is a DEMOCRAT. Don’t you think it’s time we stop the political BS and find solutions to find waste and fraud??? We don’t need talking points from Media Matters right now………..

  3. I live in California I receive welfare benefits for my baby. I totally believe in Every state there should be mandatory drug testing. I don’t drink or do drugs. The taxpayers have to drug test to earn the money, welfare recipients including myself should have to drug test in order to receive the money. And for those who say its an invasion of their privacy.. Uh Helo PUBLIC assistance. So please shut the hell up.

  4. JRH wrote **I can imagine Republican legislators will eagerly support an even more expanded proposal that subjects CEOs of companies taking state subsidies to drug tests, too! Right, guys?**

    Of course, why shouldn’t all those that Union Gov. Ahh Ahh Uhmm Uhmm gave Millions to. It’s only fair that ESPN, CIGNA etc. after being paid by Taxpayers to stay in a State where they already exisited and promise 200 jobs over 10yrs.

    With economic plans like Gov. Ahh Ahh Uhmm Uhmm, I’d say maybe he should be drug tested!

    • Not sure who this Gov. is you’re talking about. Obviously either you wrote fast and the result is poor spelling, or it is an overused personal attack that really has no value in this issue other than to make yourself feel good about attacking someone you don’t even know.

  5. Ahhh Ahhh umm umm is clearly our new Governor. He sputters out sentence fragments constantly when speaking, and it is both distracting and irritating to say the least. None the less I agree, people getting any public assistance should be tested. I am sick of seeing people in section 8 housing driving a Mercedes while I work over 40 hours every week and drive an 11 car with well over 200 thousand miles on it. My parents used to give food to the needy, but stopped when my father had to push past a mountain of empty beer bottles in the hallway and then the recipients refused to answer the door but instead sat inside playing video games. Unreal.

    • Well, you didn’t spell it exactly like EdA, but still don’t see those words when I go to the Govs. website. I see Dannel P. Malloy. But have fun with cheap shots that do nothing but make you feel better that you can make fun of an elected official.

  6. If your receive welfare than you should be drug tested. Why should the American taxpayers fund your drug habit? The money is not for that purpose. if you have nothing to hide it should not be a problem.

  7. I think the state of CT will save alot of money if they test recipients and stop giving benefits to those who do drugs. I know of many drug users that receive benefits and the moment that they receive they’re food stamps, they go to small corner store and change food stamps for money to buy drugs. I receive benefits and I think it would be a great thing if they start testing recipients.

    • That’s the problem, Sasha. The cannot stop giving the benefits until they have exhausted all drug rehab options. The cost of rehab is rediculous compared to the actual number of people receiving assistance that are on drugs. The commish is correct. Lets look at the numbers…all of them before we rush to put a plan into place that will in essence give abusers (whether its drug abuse or system abuse) more options to abuse.

      • So I have to pay for rehab too? I think not. Let’s try something novel, it is a rerely used word in govenment and welfare “responsability” . Use=loose simple. Why should I pay for the poor choices of others?

    • Actually, they’ll lose plenty of money, not save a single cent. Drug testing costs money, and Florida’s scam has already proven that welfare recipients are much less likely to do drugs than tax-payers. At a rate of 1 positive in 50 tests and $30 per test, it costs Florida $1,500 for each positive. The margin of error in these tests is about 10%, meaning that all of the positives could easily be false. The rate of false positives is also likely to be higher in welfare recipients because many are disabled and take medications that look like illegal substances in these tests. The maximum benefit for a single person is about $200 for food stamps, and $200 for cash. I can’t put a number on medical because it’s very inconsistent. Given that drug users obviously have some money with which to buy drugs, they’re not likely to get the maximum benefit for anything. The Department of Social Services is touchy about medical(your income and cash on-hand is closely scrutinized through frequent audits, and your benefits decrease or end if you have much money at all), and it’s extremely difficult to qualify for cash(it requires you to apply for federal aid first, and you’re required to pay it back eventually), we can cut those out of the equation. The average food stamp recipient receives $141.26 per month, and stays on the program for 9 months, at a total cost of $1271.34. On the tests alone, the state stands to lose an average of $228.66 per positive result on food-stamp-only recipients. The only way this could possibly be financially sane is by only testing the recipients of the highest benefit amounts who show signs of drug abuse, but the police and courts already test people who show those signs, so it would be redundant. The only cost-effective way to enforce a drug-free policy is to disqualify people who have had a recent drug conviction.

  8. I am all for this, however. Can they deny welfare recipients the right to receive, without an alternative? I fear it will end up more costly as we will be paying for rehab for those on welfare and it won’t help them as they will go back to drugs as soon as released. If they stop receiving, there will be higher crime rates. Streets will be even less safe than they are now. So in the long run, it will be more costly.. JMO

    • Mass. made massive welfare reforms and they did not experience huge crime spikes. Just the opposite, as the majority run out of options they figure out how to work and pay taxes, and as many welfare recipients point out, they are not all lazy crminal slaggards.

  9. this is such bullshit and whats next putting chips into are us this is the usa and we have right this is going way to far i am not for this even tho im clean and sober but many people have to deal with being hooked on drugs and its not eazy i know this from years of drugs this is just not fair at all stand up for your rights befor it gets way out of hand

    • What about my rights? I pay for those benefits, I don’t have the right to know if my money is being squandered on drugs and alcohol? I didnt get you hooked, you did. You want my money handed to you for nothing? If I suspect my children, I can have them tested, why not you?

  10. I’m not against drug testing, but I think it would be better to require welfare recipients to have or be in the process of getting a high school diploma/GED, and additional occupational training of their choice. Learning a marketable service or trade is essential for ending the vicious poverty circle.

  11. Oh boo hoo, so people who collect a check need to get tested. THe $50 bucks it cost is way less than the millions that are spent each year in fraud. Ie: you know the example. Subject A presents an EBT Card with Lobsters, Steak, and all of the high end food you can eat. Once they burn up the amount on the card. There BF starts a new order, pull out a wad of cash and pays for it all, then proceeding to get in there plus $50,000.00 car. Hmmmm… Wonder how that works. If you doubt me, its done weekly at the Manchester Stop and Shop in the Parkade. Just pick a day, hang out and you will see it happen time and time again. Its disgusting. On a side note, CT also needs to add the Citizenship requirement that Georgia just added. In the US Illegally, ya don’t get a check. Enough for now. Can wait for a response!!!!

  12. Right on, lets just kick them while there already down… Our currency is already almost worthless, may as well do something counterproductive with it.

    How much money do we suppose it will cost to do these “drug tests” anyways? Any figures? Has anyone considered the cost or socioeconomic impact of taking those with almost nothing and then removing their last bit of anything that keeps them from going under completely?

    How about we treat it as the medical problem it is instead of pretending its some sort of proverbial cross that tax payers have to bear when the real criminals are the ones who literally (in every sense of the word) steal from anyone who has US dollars in their possession.

    A drug problem does not equate to a criminal problem (regardless of the legality of any said substance)… Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they should be spending any of that money on their habit, however I don’t see how simply drug testing, removing said benefits, and or persecution along with imprisonment would accomplish anything positive. After all, who do you think pays for the prisons and court systems?

    • Here is an update: People who are able bodied end up on welfare often by making poor choices. I will agree that it can be circumstance that gets one to the wefare payroll, but that is the exception. Drug testing is cheap easy and effective which is why the goveernment requires them for their employees. It is the screaming hippocracy of the lack of drug testing that is alarming. A government employee submits, whats the difference? Private employees submit, and most anybody with a job that pays the taxes for welfare to exist, is drug tested. If you want to waste your money, thats fine, dont waste mine.

  13. Here’s a good place where ppl use drugs on a constant day to day basis and they receive state aid, weather it be for food, medical insurance or what ever 99% of Hartford Ct population is on drugs and 99% of the population is on welfare, so there is your sign. If i have to be drug tested to get a job then they should be drug tested to get my hard earn tax dollars that I am not entitled to when i need the help for energy asst. or such so yes TEST THEM ALL EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM AND DO IT SPONTANEOUSLY SO THEY DON’T KNOW AND DON’T TRY TO HIDE THE FACT THEY ARE ON DRUGS… Please note i do know that not everyone in Hartford uses drugs so please don’t take that as an attack towards those of you who live out there not by choice but due to income issues and job related things.

    • and what do you do with people removed from assistance? nobody ever thinks about the ramifications of impulsive decisions.

  14. My only issue is taking money from people who don’t have it to begin with to pay for the testing. Suppose Jack or Jill doesn’t have any family to borrow from to order the test. If the state pays for the test free and clear than its ok. Its just not practical to expect someone to cough up money they don’t have. If they had money they wouldn’t be applying for welfare. You have to be really down and out to be eligible for benefits in the first place.

  15. this is absurd,and only meant to remove people from receiving benefits that are critical to there and there childrens survival.false positives,poppy seed muffins and corrupt labs(remember diana taurasi and her positive test,later overturned),not to mention the added cost of the tests,we need less big brother!!

  16. Somehow I’m not surprised that the pompous Republican asses in this forum are ignorant to the fact that Governor Malloy suffered learning and motor skill difficulty during his youth which no doubt affects his speech to this day. He may not be the best public speaker because of his handicap, but he is without question a much better human being than you despicable Republicans who mock his disability. You insensitive people disgust me.

  17. Its fine with me if they drug test people that are on welfare, but i also think they should test people that get disability checks every month from the government too. I know alot of people that the first thing they do with there disability check is run out a get drugs with it. Fair is fair.

  18. I agree with drug testing, disability testing and they also should implement that in order to get your check that you have to do so many hours public service. I be the number of checks handed out would decrease greatly

  19. Guess who pays for the testing? Taxpayers. So not only will we pay for Welfare, but not we will have to pay for the testing as well. Think before you act. It isn’t nearly as great of an idea as everyone seems to think. There are MANY ways to hide drugs from your urine. A lot of them cannot be detected after a short period of time.

  20. Who do you think vote the dems in? The lazy asses on welfare and section 8, its the dems who want to continue these programs so the inner city people continue to vote them in and they continue to sit home and do nothing but watch tv and play video game and smoke their weed and drink their 40’s while everyone else out there works so that they can pay them. Vote a democrat and feed the inner rats.

    • EdA, you didn’t reply to me on anything. I checked the comment feed where I first replied to you and there is no reply from you. What kind of rebuttal to do want? Check and see if your comment even got approved.

      As for the topic at hand, I think it should be discussed (drug tests for welfare recipients), but I do want to see the fiscal note on it, as well as reports that really clarify the potential number of people using drugs on welfare to know if this would reduce our payout or offset drug test costs.

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