Critics, Supporters respond to proposed welfare legislation - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Critics, Supporters respond to proposed "tough love" welfare legislation

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At the state capitol in Austin, a prescription some call "tough love" is percolating through the lawmaking process.

The Republican driven proposal would make mandatory drug tests for all in Texas who receive the welfare check known as Temporary Assistance For Needy Families.

Those who test positive would be cut-off from state cash.

Critics like Bob Sandborn of Children at Risk say other states, like Florida, have tried testing and didn't save their taxpayers a dime.

"They found that the number of people that were doing drugs while getting welfare benefits was about 2 percent and the cost of doing these drug tests far surpassed any fraud that was being committed by any individual," said Sanborn.

In Texas, the monthly cash benefit for a single parent with two children amounts to around $235. The legislative drug testing proposal would have no effect on food stamps, housing assistance or disability payments.

Furthermore, the children of parents who test positive would still receive their share of the monthly check.

"There's no evidence that anybody is going to be worried about their $235 dollars and stop taking drugs because of that. It's just not going to happen," said Sanborn.

There is, however, another side to this story.

Kathryn Griffin Townsend advocates for women fleeing drug abuse, prostitution and human trafficking. Many receive welfare benefits.

She recently polled more than 200 clients on the issue of mandatory testing.

"Our mouths just blew open. Wow! It blew me away," said Griffin Townsend.

That's because more than 80 percent said they'd welcome the government imposed behavioral boundary of testing.

"They said, 'Maybe if they did drug test us it would keep us from selling our food stamps to the drug dealers or owing drug dealer our disability check'," said Griffin Townsend.

"I didn't expect the population who is actually receiving these benefits to say maybe they need to drug test me," she added.

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