If Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) wants the poor and jobless to prove they’re not on drugs in order to receive benefits, then Perry should have to pee in a cup, too, says a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives.
State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) told HuffPost he got his idea from the Bible.
“The Bible talks about not judging others,” Martinez Fischer said. “If the governor wants to sit in judgment, then we’re going to judge everybody by the same standard.”
On Tuesday, Perry proposed drug testing for Texans who seek unemployment insurance or benefits from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, better known as welfare. Perry didn’t say that unemployed and poor Texans were spending their benefits on drugs; he just said the state should make sure it doesn’t happen.
“Texas taxpayers will not subsidize or tolerate illegal drug abuse,” he said.
Lawmakers in more than 30 states have proposed drug testing for welfare benefits in recent years, but only Florida has followed through with blanket testing of welfare applicants. A federal court suspended the effort, citing the U.S. Constitution’s protections against unreasonable searches by the government, but not before several months of testing proved the scheme a remarkable failure. The program cost the state more than it saved, and people applying for TANF benefits turned out to be less likely to use drugs than the general population.
The likelihood of a constitutional challenge hasn’t stopped Perry or other lawmakers from pushing forward with testing requirements. Democrats in several states have responded with bills to drug test lawmakers and governors. After all, Martinez Fischer explained, the governor lives on public funds.
“He’s the largest recipient of government subsidies in the state of Texas,” Martinez Fischer said of Perry. “His subsidy for his mansion is no different from someone else’sSection 8 voucher.”
Martinez Fischer also said Perry “has yet to come clean with his association with painkillers during the presidential campaign.”
Perry’s office declined to comment on Martinez Fischer’s proposal.