Connecticut Dems Propose Eliminating Motor Vehicles Department

By | July 30, 2009

Legislative Democrats in Connecticut say the Department of Motor Vehicles should be eliminated and its functions and staff redistributed to other state agencies to help streamline state government.

The proposal is part of a draft plan for reorganizing state government that will be included in the latest budget the Democratic-controlled budget-writing committees are expected to unveil Thursday.

Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly have been at odds for months over how to cover a multibillion dollar deficit.

Rell has maintained that no tax increases are needed, while the Democrats have proposed higher taxes for the wealthy and corporations. Democrats argue that covering the deficit with mostly spending cuts would be draconian and harm state services.

Under the latest offering, certain DMV functions would be spread to Departments of Public Safety, Environmental Protection and Consumer Protection.

There’s also a pilot program proposed where certain services such as license renewals, registrations and document replacements could be provided in public places like shopping malls.

The proposal was met with skepticism by Rell, who has been at odds with the Democrats for months over how to balance an approximate $38 billion, two-year state budget with an $8.56 billion deficit.

“To date, the Democrats have rejected every consolidation, merger or reorganization that Governor Rell has proposed. If the Democrats are genuine and sincere in their proposal to cut spending, then Governor Rell welcomes this as a first step, since the Democrats have focused solely on raising taxes up until now,” Rell’s office said in a written statement.

Both lawmakers and Rell are each presenting new budget plans this week because a new law requires them to do so after a deficit figure has been agreed upon.

Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, without providing any details, said the Democrats’ new plan will include more spending cuts and “a lower rate of new taxes.” He said he’s optimistic this process of coming up with new respective budgets will ultimately lead to a compromise with Rell on a final tax and spending plan.

“No one wants this process to go on much longer,” he said.

The state has been without a budget since the new fiscal year began on July 1. Rell had to issue an executive order to make sure certain bills got paid this month.

This marks the first time during this budget impasse that the majority Democrats have publicly proposed eliminating the DMV as a way to cut costs.

The nonpartisan Office of Legislative Research said only 10 states have a freestanding motor vehicle agency like Connecticut. Seven states have registration and licensing split between more than one agency, while 31 states have a motor vehicle division or office within a larger state agency.

Topics Connecticut

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