Perry, Dewhurst Back Drug Tests for Benefits - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Perry, Dewhurst Back Drug Tests for Benefits

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SHERMAN,TX---  Two of Texas' top leaders are calling for changes to the state's welfare and unemployment benefit programs. Governor Rick Perry and Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst have announced that they support mandatory drug tests before benefits can be received.

They expressed their support for Texas Senate Bill 11 Tuesday at a press conference.

"This will help prevent tax dollars from going into the pockets of drug abusers or drug dealers and instead ensure that this money goes into the pockets of those who truly need it," said Perry.

The bill was pre-filed Monday by State Senator Jane Nelson and it already has people talking.

"I think someone should have started doing that a long time ago," said Ray Layman.

"If your out there doing drugs you're not looking for a job," said Robert Lyle.

Dewhurst says those who fail the mandatory drug test could be disqualified from receiving benefits for up to 12 months unless they complete a substance abuse program which would be provided by Medicaid.

But not everyone supports the plan.

Tommy Maddox, Executive Director at Texoma Community Center, wonders if kicking people out of the system may cause more problems than it solves.

"When you screen people out what might be some of the other unintended consequences? Does the fact that people don't have food lead to crime which we know is much more costly then the food stamps themselves," said Maddox.  

The state legislative session begins in January.