The biggest reason Texas won't implement REAL ID is cost. According to Rep. Isett's HCR 148:
the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently informed the House Appropriations Committee that all 18.5 million Texas driver's licenses and ID cards must be verified and reissued within five years under the act, prompting the agency to request $268.7 million as an exceptional item in its 2008-2009 budget; in addition, DPS has indicated it expects ongoing REAL ID-related expenses to be $101.3 million per yearA quarter-billion dollar startup cost and another $100 million to implement is certainly a good reaon not to do it - if you're thinking in terms of opportunity costs, those are more or less the amounts required to implement the Senate's proposal to build and operate three new prisons. But cost isn't the only reason cited in Isett's resolution for Texas' refusal to implement REAL ID:
In addition to unease about expense, provisions of the REAL ID Act raise concerns about data security and possible identity theft; the act requires statewide databases to be integrated and shared with the federal government, but does not establish clear security standards for the network nor designate an entity to control access to the system; andI cannot help but pause here to point out that when Chairman Corte's legislation passed to expand gathering of biometric data from Texas drivers and removed restrictions on law enforcement use of the information, he told the same committee in 2005 that the expense involved would prepare Texas to implement the REAL ID Act because the federal law (which at that time hadn't been finally passed) would require those same provisions. I testified in committee, and the chairman belittled my suggestion that Texas wait to find out what REAL ID would require before spending tens of millions prospectively.
WHEREAS, These ambiguities in the legislation make it more likely that information about a driver's license or ID card holder could be illegally accessed through another state's less secure system, creating a vulnerability where none currently exists and increasing the likelihood of the very threat the program was designed to minimize
Now it turns out that legislation didn't prepare Texas to implement REAL ID, and massive additional expenditures must be made to do so. Howver, the new data gathered because of Corte's changes last session has already been used by Governor Perry's Texas Fusion Center in ways that were never discussed during the legislative process. That episode was cause enough for me to oppose any future sharing of driver data until we rein in past abuses, so I'm glad to see Texas opt out of the REAL ID mess.
See prior, related Grits coverage: