Welfare recipients should be treated like truck drivers, tea partying Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) says. Or, in other words, he wants to randomly drug test welfare recipients.
At a business chamber breakfast in Jay, Maine, LePage said, “I’m going to ask the Legislature to do what every truck driver in the United States of America has to do, take a random test,” Maine Today reports. “I think if we’re going to take our own limited resources, we ought to be able to test ‘em on occasion.”
Maine Today reports that a woman emailed him to ask if Maine’s benefits are better than New Hampshire’s. And LePage wasn’t too pleased with the question.
“I found that very insulting,” LePage said, according to the report. “I responded by saying ‘ask not what the state of Maine can do for you, but what you can do for the state of Maine. Have a nice life.’”
Down in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott championed a welfare drug testing law. His law — recently blocked by a judge — required welfare applicants to first pass a drug test before receiving benefits. Scott argued that taxpayer dollars must not be used to fuel anyone’s drug habits. But early results of the welfare applicants’ drug tests show that only about 2 percent tested positive.
Robyn Merrill, a policy analyst at Maine Equal Justice, told TPM that focusing on drug testing welfare recipients is a poor use of legislative time and energy.
“(It) creates a slippery slope,” Merrill added. “Does the government start testing for anybody who wants to get a student loan, for example? There are all kinds of public assitance from the government. There’s a real public policy concern.”
LePage’s office did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.
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David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com