Last month, California lawmakers approved a budget that will increase the Department of Motor Vehicles’ budget by over $242 million. This 17 percent increase means that the DMV’s total budget is now $1.36 billion. The increase was approved to help the DMV promote and navigate ongoing implementation challenges for the federally mandated REAL ID program. In order for U.S. citizens to board airplanes or enter other federal facilities without a passport, they will need to obtain a REAL ID. State Senator Jim Nielsen stated the following regarding the move,
It’s a sad reality of government. When things get bad with the DMV, a failed agency, what does the Legislature and the governor do? Well, we reward them with more money, not make them more accountable. … That isn’t fixing. That’s feeding the beast.
There are still millions of Californians that have not yet visited the DMV to obtain their REAL ID. Lawmakers compromised the budget increase by adding accountability measures that require the DMV to disclose more data on key performance metrics and continue providing monthly reports on wait times. Lawmakers also approved a plan to pass credit card fees on to DMV customers. California has until Oct. 1, 2020 to implement the REAL ID program, so hopefully all the issues are fixed in a timely manner to meet that deadline.