Step 1: Cut Funding for AODA Programs. Step 2: Impose Mandatory Drug Testing for Unemployment Benefits

'Gov. Walker Has It Completely Backwards'

MADISON, Wis. — After signing into law drastic funding cuts to an Alcohol and Other Drug Addiction (AODA) program targeting youths, Gov. Scott Walker is now proposing mandatory drug testing for Wisconsinites as a condition of receiving unemployment benefits or participating in the FoodShare program. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross denounced the shortsighted and hypocritical actions of Gov. Walker on the issue.

“Gov. Walker has it completely backwards,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “First he cut funding to help treat or even prevent kids from getting hooked on drugs and alcohol. Then, to try to get re-elected, he’s proposing drug testing as a condition of getting unemployment in his worst in the Midwest on job creation economy.”

In his 2011 state budget Gov. Walker proposed and signed into law a measure cutting the entire $8.7 million in general purpose revenue appropriated for an AODA grant program. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the program defunded by Walker provided block grants to schools to “address alcohol and other drug abuse issues among school age children.”

In addition, in Walker’s 2011 budget other AODA programs funded by criminal penalty surcharge revenues were subjected to 10 percent across the board cuts to try to balance a budget that included nearly $100 million in tax giveaways to corporations and investors.

As part of a so-called campaign issued jobs plan, Gov. Walker has said he wants to impose mandatory drug testing on those collecting unemployment benefits or participating in the FoodShare program, apparently copying a Florida initiative. In Florida the drug testing scheme reportedly found less than 3 percent of public assistance recipients tested positive for drugs. The Florida rate is far below what has been reported by the federal Department of Health Services for members of the general population. The Florida law was also struck down as unconstitutional by a federal court.

Ross concluded, “If Gov. Walker really wanted to help he’d invest in helping keep kids clean in the first place instead of eliminating millions in AODA funding. This is just one more example of Gov. Walker looking to advance his political ambitions, the real-life consequences for the people of Wisconsin be damned.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.