Gov. Rick Scott Invents A Scientific Study On Drug Use During Nationally Televised Interview

Now for Gov. Rick Scott's charade of the day -- making up a scientific study on drug use by welfare recipients on a nationally televised CNN interview.

As you know, the governor signed H.B. 353 into law last week, requires Floridians on welfare to pass a drug test before they get their cash.

On the air with CNN host T.J. Holmes earlier this week, the governor was asked if he had any evidence that a "significant number" of those receiving welfare assistance in Florida were drug users.

The governor's response: "You know, T.J., I don't know."

About a minute-and-a-half later -- after being asked twice more what evidence he has to show that welfare recipients are typically drug users -- he invents at least one scientific study to prove his point.

"Studies show that people on welfare are using drugs much higher than other people in the population," he said.

After that interview, PolitiFact Florida asked the governor's office exactly which studies he was referring to.

The Scott crew handed over one, 11-year-old national survey that found 9.6 percent of people in families that receive some sort of government assistance -- which includes non-cash assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid -- compared to 6.8 percent of people who receive no government assistance at all.

The ACLU supplied PolitiFact with a very similar study -- it's old, national, and includes other types of cash assistance -- but it found a very different result. Drug use for welfare recipients was between 1.3 and 3.6 percent, compared to 1.5 percent of those non-welfare recipients.

We're guessing the governor's other study he was referring to must have come from the "Rick Scott University of Learning Good" -- because like that university, the other study doesn't exist.

Let's say we give the governor the benefit of the doubt -- 9.6 percent of the 93,170 people on welfare in Florida use drugs, and they won't be receiving their cash assistance. The average monthly check for a welfare recipient is between $100 and $200, but we'll use the latter to maximize the state's savings. Based on 8,944 people failing their drug test, that saves the state $1,788,800.

Then the state has to reimburse the cost of the test to the 84,266 welfare recipients who they believe will pass. Since the drug tests are believed to cost up to $25, that's $2,106,650 they would be paying to the welfare recipients.

That's $317,850 the state believes -- based on their presented research -- they will lose in the first round of drug testing.

But hey, let's talk about fiscal responsibility.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley