April 20, 2014

Revenue department budget threatened (AUDIO)

The state senate is upping the stakes in its confrontation with the Revenue Department about changes in the way driver’s licenses are issued.  Some key Senators think the department is breaking state law by taking part in the federal Real ID program.

Governor Nixon signed the law four years ago saying Missouri would not take part in the Homeland Security Department’s Real ID act, the federal law that makes it harder to get fake driver’s licenses or other official forms of identification.

But the department is using a Homeland Security grant to gather additional information about Missourians who get or renew state licenses or ID cards.  And Senate appropriations chairman Kurt Schaefer says the department might be illegally getting rid of license office cameras and replacing them with high-tech Homeland Security cameras. 

Senate floor leader Ron Richard of Joplin tells Schaefer, “This body will not take up their budget…until you are satisfied with their answers.”

Schaefer says, “We will be hard pressed to go forward with their budget and give them appropriations authority to spend public money when we see what’s happened with public money we’ve already given them.” 

The department has until Tuesday afternoon to provide the Senate with documents it has subpoenaed.  Schaefer is demanding to know how tight the relationship is between the department and Homeland Security. And now he wants to know who authorized removing taxpayer-paid cameras from department license offices.  He says the contract the department has with a company producing new high-security licenses gives the cameras to the company, which destroys them. 

The Missourinet contacted the department to ask for its side of the latest allegations.  The department was unresponsive.  

AUDIO: Floor discussion (6:48)

AUDIO: Schaefer, Richard, Dempsey 5:15