Wednesday, February 07, 2007

DPS: REAL ID Act would cost $268 million to implement in Texas

DPS head honcho Tommy Davis told the House Appropriations Criminal Justice Subcommittee this afternoon that it would cost Texas taxpayers $268 million dollars over two years for Texas to implement the federal REAL ID Act, including 737 new full-time employees for at least the next five years.

That's a huge sum of money - a LOT more than the $13 million the House Law Enforcement Committee estimated it would cost to implement. Congress has said that if states don't implement the changes by May 2008, their driver licenses will no longer be accepted for a variety of federal purposes, including entry onto airplanes or federal courthouses. But I think that's a bluff - especially since, as Davis mentioned, the federal rules haven't even been issued yet, I think it just can't reasonably happen.

Rep. Debbie Riddle was especially anxious about implementing the REAL ID Act, declaring she wouldn't "sleep better at night" until it was done. To me, this is a boondoggle of epic proportions - especially at a state pricetag of more than a quarter billion dollars!

Several states have already said they won't meet the feds' timeline, and Davis said the federal legislation included "zero" dollars to reimburse states for the cost. As I've written earlier, "maybe Texas should just call the feds' bluff and wait to see if things change under the Democratic Congress."

An LBB rep said the REAL ID Act would cost all states a total of $11 billion, with a "B," while only $40 million has been allocated so far, all to the federal DHS. LBB recommends that Congress be petitioned for money, flexibility and especially more time for implementation. There will also be phase-out costs, they warned, after five years when fewer FTE staff positions and facilities would likely be required.

LBB said implemeting the program would require an additional fee of $15 per driver license and renewal to pay for the program.

MORE from security guru Bruce Schneier analyzing the flaws in the REAL ID program, and why states should reject it. Also, the Lufkin Daily News wants the Lege to reject the program.


Anonymous said...

Security experts have been chewing over Real ID for some time.

Check this archive, the 4th article down, "Real-ID: Costs and Benefits":

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