Should all welfare recipients pass a drug test as a requirement to getting assistance?
The feeling on connectmidmichigan.com is clear.
The vast majority want it.
But can Michigan afford it?
Would it save money or cost the state more?
NBC25's Dan Armstrong ran some numbers to find out.
According to Michigan's Green Book of statistics, in January 2011 there were 2,553,714 total welfare recipients.
That includes the Family Independence Program, Food Assistance Program, State Disability Assistance, Child Development and Care, and those Medicaid eligible.
The state paid out more than $328 million in benefits in January.
Assuming all other months are the same, the state is on pace to spend nearly $4-billion in welfare this year.
Michigan was the first state to impose mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients in 1999. By 2003, it was ruled unconstitutional.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says during that time 10% of Michigan welfare recipients tested positive for illicit drugs.
By removing 10% of the recipients, and assuming a 10% reduction of benefits, it would save the state nearly $400-million a year.
But, drug tests cost money.
On the high side, let's assume they would be $40 a test.
Multiply that by the welfare recipients for January 2011 and you get more than $102-million.
Subtract that from the 10% of benefits and you get more than $292.5-million in savings.
Granted, this exercise is not scientific and neglects several other factors.
For instance, if drug testing is done by the state itself, it may require more people to be on the payroll to administer it.
Then, there's the cost of getting people who are on drugs the help they need, which carries another cost.
What do you think is the answer?
Comment below to let us know.