Some time ago, I wrote a piece that I put on the DailyKos rather than SMP since it was not focused on the specifically Missouri politics that provide SMP with its raison d’etre, but addressed a general issue. I wrote that the Republican Party was becoming a pretty costly proposition for taxpayers:
The one-time home of fiscal conservatives, the GOP has become the home of wasteful spenders who, while spouting simplistic economic platitudes intended to enhance an image of financial rectitude, have been pissing away public funds with abandon.
I wrote that one of the ways that Republicans create waste is through “ill-considered, ideologically-driven policies that ignore the facts of real life.” One of the examples I cited was the Republican fetish for tying welfare benefits to drug-testing; I noted that “the rationale reflects the belief in a particularly ugly, often racist, stereotype about the average welfare recipient that does not hold true often enough to justify the effort – and since the state pays for the drug tests, it ends up footing a big bill for little or no return on the investment.”
At the time, I cited* the case of Florida where analysis indicated that drug-testing welfare recipients was an expensive waste of time. Now the numbers are in as far as the drug-testing of welfare recipients in Missouri are concerned, and, according to a report in the Kansas City Star, it seems that the Florida experience isn’t unique:
Missouri this year became the most recent state to install drug testing for welfare recipients. After eight months and 636 drug test requests, the program turned up 20 people who tested positive and about 200 who refused to comply. Roughly 32,000 people in the state have applied for assistance since testing began.
The program’s price: nearly $500,000.
“I think it’s just astronomical,” said Rep. Stacey Newman, a St. Louis County Democrat. “It’s a horrible waste of state resources.”
As Steven Benen elaborates about the Missouri numbers, “even if all 200 [i.e., those who refused to be tested] were drug users, that still comes to more than $2,200 per positive result, which is more expensive than the median benefit in the state.”
You’d think that folks who have traditionally billed themselves as members of the party of business would understand the importance of reliable, empirical data to a cost-benefit analysis and would also be able to factor in administrative overhead. It’s just too bad that during a period when state services are being trimmed to the bone, Missouri taxpayers are going to have to pay for one more expensive failure engendered by the false premises that inform GOP ideology.
*In the original DK posting from May 2013, I incorrectly stated that Missouri had failed to pass a law tying drug-testing to welfare benefits. Wishful thinking maybe?