As Patrick pointed out in August, the Oklahoma legislature is determined to imitate the state of Florida by implementing a program that requires welfare recipients to submit to drug testing. Supposedly, the additional drug testing will save money even though other states have found that it costs more to administer regular tests to people who have no reason to be suspected of being users (aside from their lack of money), than it saves in benefits to those who do partake.
However, since logic is not a strong point among Oklahoma legislators, the bill was overwhelmingly supported by the state House of Representatives. The House’s minority caucus decided to take this as an opportunity to actually find out if the most recipients of public money were clean. Knowing the bill would pass, House Democrats introduced an amendment requiring that anyone who wanted to run for public office submit to drug testing. Surprisingly, it passed with bipartisan support.
According to this, that is not enough to make a bill a law. It also has to pass the state Senate and they are wary of having to pee in a cup.
Calling the provision a “stunt,” senator David Holt stripped the provision the bill before it was considered by the body at large. My question is this: How is it a stunt?
The issue, if you listen to a legislator in favor of the bill, is that the taxpayers of Oklahoma should not be supplementing the drug habit of people who ask the state to pay their bills. It has nothing, if you listen to a legislator in favor of the bill, to do with punishing poor people.
Except it has everything to do with the latter and little to do with the former. Someone who asks for TANF benefits (the program targeted by this law) is limited to $292 per month in benefits. If they remain in the system for a full year, that comes to $3,504 annually. Meanwhile, David Holt will make $38,400 from the tax payers of Oklahoma for his part-time job. And as far as elected officials, that makes him one of the lower paid employees of the state. Governor Mary Fallin (who is in line for a raise) made $147,000 last year. Then, if including federal offices, that means guys like Tom Coburn and Jim Inhofe would have to pass a test to collect their $174,000.
I’d say that has a lot more potential for saving Oklahomans from supplementing drug habits.
It also costs taxpayers a lot of potential comedy. The first politician to bomb a test is bound to blame the liberal media (you know, The Oklahoman), or at least blame it on eating a poppy seed muffin (at a local bakery, naturally).
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