Gov should provide money for drug tests
The governor's office has denied a budget request to pay for teachers' drug tests.
THE state administration, which insisted on a non-negotiable provision for drug tests of public school teachers in their current contract, now refuses to provide the $523,723 needed to conduct the tests.
Gov. Linda Lingle's team contends the Department of Education already has enough money to absorb the cost of random and reasonable-suspicion drug tests for teachers, and for a $300,000 program to have dogs detect drugs on campuses. That might be, but the push for testing came from the governor's office and it should be willing to pay for it.
Drug tests became a contentious issue among teachers and their union, the Hawaii State Teachers Association. Some felt pay raises were being held hostage to the provision. Of the union's 13,000 members, only about 61 percent of the 8,000 who voted ratified the new contract.
There has been no love lost between the administration and the department that is largely out of the governor's realm of authority. Overseen by the Board of Education, the department is largely free to operate on its own. The governor can shape its budget by including or rejecting requests, and by releasing funds as she chooses. However, lawmakers determine appropriations and can still carve out money for programs the department favors.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii has warned it will challenge the constitutionality of the random tests and is preparing to file suit. If successful, the suit will render the funding question moot.
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