From the office of state Sen. J.B. Jennings:
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Senator J.B. Jennings of Legislative District 7 is introducing Senate Bill 287, which would require recipients of Temporary Cash Assistance to consent to random drug testing as a requisite for receiving assistance.
This legislation will reduce the state’s net TCA expenditures as well as ensure that payments are used for legitimate and legal purposes. The proposed program would help reduce the $13.5 million shortfall in the Temporary Cash Assistance budget that the Maryland Department of Legislative Services has estimated for fiscal year 2012 and beyond. It will do so primarily by reducing the total caseload.
In addition to reducing costs for the state overall, this bill will also provide incentive for those with substance abuse problems to seek treatment, ensure that children of recipients receive the benefits afforded to them, and reduce instances of cash benefit abuse.
According to reports by the Department of Human Resources, over $12 million was spent on Temporary Cash Assistance in Fiscal Year 2011. Further analyses suggest that reducing the current number of TCA caseloads by as little as 3% could save the state roughly $600,000 each year. The amount saved by this program would more than pay for the cost of initiating the drug testing.
Senate Bill 287 is based on similar legislation introduced in Florida in 2011. Reports from that state indicate that there was a 48 % drop in monthly cash assistance approvals in the first quarter after the bill was enacted.
“I firmly believe that welfare benefits are a privilege, not a right,” Senator Jennings has said of the motivation behind his bill. “I participate in random drug testing for my service in the military and thousands of Marylanders do the same when applying for employment in the private sector. I believe comparable care and attention should be paid to the distribution of temporary cash assistance funds.”