Nearly three million Illinoisans receive benefits in the form of food stamps. welfare or medical help. But one lawmaker says too much of this assistance is being "drained" by drug users. Rep. Dwight Kay wants to require drug testing when people sign up for welfare. The Republican, from Glen Carbon, says the state pays money to people without assessing their ability to be productive.
"We want the needy to be provided the financial assistance. And we do want those who are needy and are having some, let's just say medical problems through substance abuse to get help."
Kay's legislation would put those who test positive for drugs into treatment and ban them from welfare payments. Opponents argue the cost would be huge for little return. Kay says
"That's a pretty big budget. I think they could find some funds there to assign to that particular line item."
Kay would also deduct the drug test cost from the first month's benefits of those who pass the tests. The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least nine states have some sort of drug screening for welfare. Florida's law was struck down in December. Opponents say the proposal degrades the poor.
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