McCrory correct on welfare veto
Conservatives were not happy with Gov. Pat McCrory’s veto of a bill requiring drug-testing of welfare applicants. But McCrory did sign an executive order preserving part of the legislation ensuring fugitive felons are not on public assistance rolls.
McCrory cited government overreach as reason for vetoing the bill. His most effective reason though was the measure was not cost effective as evidenced by information from other states. It was a fair argument and consistent with conservative values.
Unfortunately, he cited Arizona, which has the oldest program. When you look at the actual failure of its initial program it was because the state only tested “for cause.” In practice, this meant they only tested those who admitted on their application to using drugs in the previous 30 days. It is often pointed out that Arizona had only one positive drug test. That should have been the first clue. It’s no wonder the program wasn’t successful as it failed to account for lying.
But Florida had similar experiences with better methodology. Only 108 out of 4,086 failed its drug test and 40 more opted out of taking the test and forfeited benefits. The state lost $45,780 in the deal. Dozens of other states have had similar results.
While the policy seems reasonable, the difficulty is most programs cost more than they save.
No one wants to enable drug addiction, but there are more effective approaches. Studies show that 8 percent of welfare recipients use drugs illegally, which mirrors the general population. Drug testing the remainng 92 percent just doesn’t offset the cost. The governor’s decision was practical if not popular.
Prescription drugs are actually the most abused drugs but that behavior is difficult to screen. Southeastern Health is leading the way locally with a coalition to combat the problem as Robeson leads the state in prescription drug abuse.
Local law enforcement is part of that coalition. Unfortunately there are no dedicated drug diversion agents. Other counties have formed prescription drug diversion teams and the effect is remarkable. Dedicated agents are more efficient than simple screening in curbing illegal drug use.
Welfare fraud agents would mean taxpayer savings. Wake County has a team of fraud investigators. In an average month investigators claim to identify $120,000 in fraud before the first checks go out. That’s millions of dollars in savings for a team that costs about $600,000 annually, according to press reports. Drug diversion agents and fraud investigators are truly more cost effective tools in addressing these problems.
Republican legislators are supporting the governor’s veto, thereby conceding based on evidence. Liberals would do well to do the same with voter ID. But they aren’t and it’s a measure that would actually benefit those who aren’t in the economic mainstream irrespective of voting.
Thirty-three states have a voter ID law. None have resulted in voter suppression.
And as if the multitude of fraudulent ACORN registrations weren’t enough, the often-cited opposition due to lack of voter fraud evidence is really a non-issue.
A 2008 Supreme Court decision concluded Indiana didn’t have to establish the existence of fraud to establish voter ID. Criminal justice data by its very nature understates voter fraud and is simply difficult to validate. It would take a forensics team for each vote.
More than 83 percent of voters want voter ID, including minorities. ID is required for nearly every transaction in society. So it is clearly not onerous and having an ID is actually a necessity outside voting.
Unlike conservatives, liberals aren’t conceding though. Voter fraud is difficult to detect and prosecute. They want to ensure it stays that way.
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