And for good reason.
The Dallas Morning News is reporting that
More than 750,000 Texas drivers haven’t paid mandatory annual surcharges on their traffic violations, forcing them to drive without valid licenses and depriving the state treasury of nearly $620 million – much of which was supposed to be used for trauma care.
Figures compiled by the Texas Department of Public Safety and provided toThe Dallas Morning News indicate that the state has collected only 32 percent of the surcharges assessed against drivers for offenses such as driving while intoxicated, failure to have insurance and driving without a valid license.
Good for the dodgers! Those surcharges are complete and utter bullshit. We have a penal code that determines the fines people pay for violating the law. We don’t need the state tacking on ridiculously high surcharges — on top of the court-determined fine/jail time and increased insurance rates — for crimes. If the state wants to fund trauma care (or, say, education or CHIP), they should allocate moneyfor the damn programs and stop “cutting” taxes.
DWI offenses carry the biggest surcharges – $1,000 a year for three years on the first conviction and $1,500 a year for a second conviction. Any DWI conviction in which the blood alcohol content is twice the legal limit draws a $2,000-a-year surcharge.
. . .
“There are a number of reasons why people don’t comply with the law, but personal finances is probably the main reason,” said Tela Mange, a DPS spokeswoman. “Many drivers just don’t have the money. Paying $1,000 a year for three years is a lot of money for some people.”
Ya think? And that $3,000 isn’t including the court sentence.
Under the Texas Penal Code (Title 3, Sec. 12.22), the maximum penalty for a DWI conviction is a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail. So, the Legislature’s lovely under-the-radar taxing scheme (and that’s what this is — they “lower taxes” but raise fees and fines) is nothing but a moneymaker.
But, of course, there’s always a Republican out there who’ll say we can cut taxes even more in a state that’s already bottomed out on pretty much every social program:
Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, who sponsored the legislation, said the massive noncompliance with the surcharges exemplifies a “big problem” for state government.
“If we could only collect all the fines and fees the state is owed, we could cut taxes because we would have a lot more money than we have now,” he said.
You mean aside from all that money we left in the budget last session to fund future tax cuts, right?
Mr. Ogden and other lawmakers have questioned whether the financial penalties are so high that they provide an incentive for people not to pay.
DUH! Are you people fucking stupid? Don’t question it, know it.
And there’s so much money they’re worried about missing out on that, lo and behold!, they’re considering contracting with collection agencies — because they don’t take a share, do they? Oh, wait:
Besides allowing the department to use collection agencies – which could be paid up to 30 percent of what they collect – and such carrots as installment payments and partial amnesty programs, DPS officials also can consider increased consequences.
Ugh. There aren’t installments plans in place already? You have to fork over $1,000 a year in a lump-sum? Jesus H. Christ. I hate these people. Best interests of Texans in mind, my ass.