The New York Times, looking into the case, discovered that during the four months that the law had been in effect before the federal judge intervened, only 108 of the 4,086 welfare clients tested had showed signs of drug use, most of those for marijuana. The state had spent $118,140, to administer the constitutionally questionable tests — $45,780 more than we would have paid to in benefits to those who failed the tests.
The state has had no better luck, so far, defending a law requiring the drug testing of state employees. Or the privatization of prisons.
The Legislature also spent more $1.8 million in court tussles over redistricting and a losing attempt to undo the Fair Districts Constitutional Amendment, though that particular exercise, however expensive, had less to do with ideology than the usual, mundane determination of the ruling party to cling to power.
The Legislature has added three amendment questions on the November ballot that promise another windfall for the legal profession. One, dubbed the “health care freedom” referendum, would supposedly neutralize the national health-care law. Another raises the old and always litigious abortion question.
And finally voters will be asked to decide whether to enshrine a variation on school prayer, recast for this election as “inspirational messages,” in the state constitution. But the referendum cleverly leaves implementation up to each of the 67 individual school boards.
The Florida School Boards Association was uninspired, advising members that if the amendment passes to forgo inspirational messages. Executive Director Wayne Blanton told the Tallahassee Democrat, “They can be assured if they adopt a policy they will be in litigation and it will cost a lot of money.”
Someone should have sent that same message to the governor and Legislature. Like I said, ideology ain’t cheap.