Sunday, April 18, 2010

Leaving Money on the Table: The Argument for Amnesty in the Driver Responsibility Program

The following was adapted from Grits public comments submitted to DPS regarding the proposed indigency rules for the Driver Responsibility program. The Public Safety Commission will hold a public hearing on the rules April 26.

Texas Department of Public Safety staff told the Public Safety Commission in February that they’d revised the proposed Driver Responsibility rules from their more aggressive proposal last September because estimates from the Comptroller’s office suggested the changes would cause a steep decline in revenue. Just to have said it, both I and the Texas Fair Defense Project requested those estimates under the Public Information Act, and we were told they do not exist. No one at the Comptroller’s office appears to have made such an estimate and it’s unclear what if any econometric modeling has been done to assess the real effects of the proposed rules.

If such estimates had been performed, I’m confident staff would not have eliminated from their proposed rules an Amnesty program for the 1.2 million defaulted drivers who’ve already lost their licenses because of the DRP surcharge. These drivers a) are not paying anyway and b) for the most part are still driving, just without a valid license or insurance. So it’s bad public policy not to create a path to legality for them. But it’s also bad economics. With 1.2 million drivers noncompliant, if just 1/3 of them took advantage of an amnesty program and paid an average of $250 each to get their driver's license back, that would generate $100 million in additional revenue (400,000 x $250) from drivers who otherwise weren't likely to pay. Why leave that money on the table?

I can understand why, in the current economic climate, some in state government might be reticent to enact changes that could reduce revenue to the General Fund. But I cannot understand failing to create an Amnesty program to encourage noncompliant drivers to at least pay something. That creates a revenue windfall that it makes no sense to forego.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I always support amnesty.

Anonymous said...

if u want to make a bad situation worse bring a cop into it

Anonymous said...

So did the Public Safety Commission tell a bald faced lie regarding the Comptroller? If not, how would you characterize the testimony, Grits?

Anonymous said...

Sorry - re-read and they said DPS staff told the PSC but the same questions still stands.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I wish I knew, I can't tell what they were talking about.

Angee said...

Well, good for us. There must have been some very sensible comments here to have made a difference. We have Grits and some people who are in positions to to see fair solutions. Thank you. mates. I come here to be impressed by the wealth of knowledge.

raymundo said...

THEY WANT MONEY,SIMPLE SOLUTION..$250 in hand to reinstate my license...if this does not become part of the program, they will not receive a penny of the $10,000 they are trying to get out of me! I WILL KEEP DRIVING WITHOUT A LICENSE AND INSURANCE TILL I DIE! ...thanks grits for all the work you are doing.

TFS said...

http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/81R/fiscalnotes/pdf/HB03056I.pdf

Gritsforbreakfast said...

10:15, that fiscal note reflects the law that goes into effect in 2011 waiving surcharges for indigents. In these proposed DPS rules a) surcharges for indigents are only reduced, not waived, and b) neither Turner's amendment nor these rules contains an amnesty provision for people who've already defaulted, which is what I've argued would raise revenue in the short term.

Anonymous said...

When nobody polices the police; the police become criminals.Harris County has proven that.