Detroit Today

New Pilot Program To Drug Test Welfare Recipients

Thursday January 22, 2015

Michigan Representative Jeff Farrington, President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy Gilda Jacobs, and CEO of the Children’s Center Debra Matthews join host Bankole Thompson for a discussion about the upcoming pilot program to test welfare recipients for drug use.

Bankole speaks with Representative Farrington, the sponsor of House Bill 4118, a bill that creates the pilot program. Farrington tells Bankole the idea for this legislation came from his constituents. He also tells Bankole that the program is tightly focused.

“This is not about the food card, the bridge card, it’s not about housing assistance. This is about additional cash through a program called Family Independence," says Farrington.

Farrington emphasizes that the program would move forward in a measured manner.

“Instead of jumping into the water with both feet, diving in and finding it doesn’t work, we wanted to make sure that it is a good program, it’s sustainable over the long term," he says.

Matthews and Jacobs then join Bankole and Farrington to bring different perspectives to the discussion.

Jacobs worries this program will hurt the poorest of the poor while not benefiting the state much financially. Matthews says “we should look at it more from the standpoint of how we really, truly help families become independent, and that goes far beyond their substance abuse issues."

Bankole, Jacobs and Matthews then continue to answer questions from callers ranging from whether this program should also apply to the Legislators that brought it into being, and just how much this program will end up costing the state.