drug testing

How to make it tougher for jobless teachers


Sometimes, it is an abuse of the word to refer to Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst as “leaders,” but call them what you will, they are at it again. With a long list of real-life, major concerns, including public school funding, in serious need of state attention, Perry and Dewhurst are off in political La-La Land, imagining another problem that doesn’t exist.

I am referring to their endorsement yesterday of the “kick-‘em-while-they’re-down” proposal to require Texans who lose their jobs to undergo drug testing before receiving unemployment benefits. It was bad enough that Perry and Dewhurst championed the budget-cutting that resulted in the loss of 25,000 school jobs last year. Now, they want to humiliate teachers and other people seeking a little help while they look for work.

Unemployment compensation is not welfare, folks. To be eligible, you have to have a satisfactory work record and be actively looking for a new job. The vast majority of people seeking temporary jobless benefits have earned their unemployment compensation through hard work. They are not drug-abusers, as Perry and Dewhurst suggest.

The idea of making life even tougher for struggling Texans seems particularly insensitive, coming as it is from a multi-millionaire (Dewhurst) and a double-dipping governor who is paid more than $240,000 a year, including salary and retirement benefits, and lives rent-free  in a state-owned mansion.

But both men, it seems, would rather continue to pander to supporters who view government as a  profit center for the well-heeled – private school vouchers, lucrative testing contracts, etc. – while weakening the public safety net for everyone else.