AUSTIN (November 14, 2012)—Gov. Rick Perry is backing legislation that would require drug screenings for those applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or unemployment insurance benefits in Texas.
State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has pre-filed a bill for the 2013 session that would require drug screening for TANF applicants.
“I appreciate Gov. Perry's support as we work to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used responsibly in our welfare system,”. Nelson said.
“We must ensure that recipients of these public funds are drug-free and, in keeping with the mission of this program, on a path to self-sufficiency.”
State. Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, is planning to find a bill requiring screening for those seeking jobless benefits.
“Unemployment benefits are intended for those who are out of work through no fault of their own,” Williams said.
“A claimant who has passed a screening for illegal drug use will be more employable and able to return to work more quickly. It’s important that recipients of these benefits are drug free, on a path to self-sufficiency, and ready to work,” he said.
TANF provides cash assistance to need families with children and unemployment benefits are paid from taxes paid by employers.
Perry says the state can’t afford to ignore "a behavior that would make it virtually impossible for someone to enter the workforce or finish school."
“Texas taxpayers will not subsidize or tolerate illegal drug abuse. Every dollar that goes to someone who uses it inappropriately is a dollar that can’t go to a Texan who needs it for housing, child care or medicine,” Perry said Wednesday.
“Being on drugs makes it much harder to begin the journey to independence, which only assures individuals remain stuck in the terrible cycle of drug abuse and poverty,” he said.