By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Senate followed through with its threat of slashing theDepartment of Revenue budget by completely eliminating funding for the driver’s license bureau in a budget proposal passed Monday night.
That plan would ax 37 full-time positions in the DOR’s license division in a $3.5 million cut. The trims also include a reduction of $7 million in DOR administrative costs, $9 million from the computer technology division of the Office of Administration and another $20 million from the Department of Public Safetyadministration.
The way Republican senators see it, all of these departments had a hand in invading citizens’ privacy. The budget includes $2 million for a sheriffs’ task force to oversee producing conceal carry permits, stripping that duty from DOR.
Some lawmakers are incensed with the revenue department for its new practice of scanning and maintaining copies of important documents of state residents, such as passports and birth certificates, when they obtain a state driver’s license. Concealed carry weapon certificates were also a part of the practice until Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the DOR to cease that practice last week.
It came to light that the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a division of the Department of Public Safety, sent lists of the state’s concealed carry permits holders to the Social Security Administration as part of a federal fraud investigation.
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, hopes the Senate’s actions will spur more open discussion on the issue.
“I’m pretty confident that this will get someone’s attention … and we’ll start getting those answers,” he said.
Carl Bearden, a former GOP lawmaker and founder of United for Missouri, which has hounded Nixon on this issue, said the Senate’s actions should spur more forthrightness.
“They obviously fail to grasp the importance and impact of this scandal,” Bearden toldMissouri Watchdog on Tuesday. “This long Nixon scandal is impacting a lot of things associated with confidence in state government.”