The amnesty program will apply only to individuals currently suspended and not in compliance with the surcharge assessment. Eligible individuals will pay 10% of the total surcharges due, not to exceed $250. If 25% of the eligible individuals participate annually in the amnesty program, the estimated collections would be approximately $18 million.So the Amnesty and Indigency programs will go into effect when the rules are finalized, but the Incentive program won't. Bummer.
The incentive program will apply only to individuals who are in compliance for all surcharges, or pay a one-time reduced amount for all surcharges. It is estimated that 39% of individuals would be eligible for the incentive program. The estimated fees waived annually would be approximately $23 million. Due to the estimated fiscal impact, the incentive program is not implemented with the adoption of the rule but will be implemented at the department’s discretion.
The indigency program defined by this rule will apply only to individuals living at or below 125% of the federal poverty level. Eligible individuals will pay 10% of the total surcharges due, not to exceed $250. Eligible individuals may be comprised of those currently paying and those not currently paying. For 100% of individuals currently paying, the estimated fees waived are approximately $11 million. For 100% of individuals not paying, the estimated fees collected are approximately $17 million. Therefore, the indigency program could see additional collections or a loss of uncollected revenue.
The Indigency program is less generous than I'd hoped, but in 2011 state law will require DPS to completely waive surcharges for indigents, so that may work itself out over time.
I suppose it's understandable why in tight budget times it's the Incentive program that won't be implemented immediately - those are folks who are current on their payments and the state risks losing revenue for some of them, though others may pay the first year then stop, etc.. When implemented, the Incentive program would give discounts of 30% - 50% if drivers pay their surcharges in a one-time lump sum instead of over three years.
As readers well know, I think this program should be abolished for a multitude of reasons. But that can only be done by the Legislature. This round of rulemaking doesn't solve every problem with the DRP, by a longshot, but it's a big step in the right direction. Congrats and thank you to the Public Safety Commissioners in particular for pushing hard on this, even when staff was at times reluctant. And thanks to Paul Watkins at DPS for letting me participate in their workgroup.
I'll have more analysis soon and will also try to let you know what others think about the new rules. Yesterday they were officially proposed by the Public Safety Commission but haven't yet been published in the Texas Register, so hold your written comments until they are. I'll let readers know when they officially light that candle, which will trigger a timeline for public comments, another hearing, etc..
RELATED: "Public Safety Commission approves driver responsibility program changes," Wilson County News
UPDATE: You can download DPS' rather minimalist power point presentation on the proposed rules here, though you'll get a better sense of what they're doing by just reading them yourself.