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California’s DMV submits hefty budget, asks for $168 million to prevent wait time crisis

This is what an audit of the California DMV found

California’s DMV failed to implement Real ID and wait times swelled in part because of a reactive culture, poor planning and outdated technology, an audit says.
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California’s DMV failed to implement Real ID and wait times swelled in part because of a reactive culture, poor planning and outdated technology, an audit says.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles is making its biggest ask yet, urging lawmakers to approve a request for more than $168 million just days after the state released an audit that detailed years of performance failures.

The DMV submitted the request on Friday through the Department of Finance, which is an arm of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office.

In a letter to lawmakers responsible for the state budget, the departments warn of longer wait times in the summer if more money isn’t provided.

According to the letter, the DMV will use the money over the next two years to “address a range of long-term operational improvements...while continuing to address its shorter-term challenges.”

Among the issues needed to be addressed are upgraded technology and better employee training. The DMV says it would hire nearly 180 more workers and keep 900 existing temporary positions funded.

The department wants to raise money for its customer service plan in part by suspending supplemental pension plan payments for five years, according to the budget documents. It also would begin passing on the costs of credit card transaction fees to customers who pay for services with them.

The request follows Newsom’s January proposal to boost DMV funding in the current budget year by $40 million. All together, he now is proposing $208 million in new funding over two years for the department.

That would bring the DMV’s annual budget up to almost $1.3 billion, $200 million more than the department spent in the 2017-18 budget.

Lawmakers are scheduled to hold a DMV budget hearing on April 9. Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, chairs the budget committee responsible for approving DMV requests. He said he’s not yet convinced the DMV should get the money its asking for.

“I believe the department needs more resources, but I don’t believe they know what to do with them right now,” Ting said.

Ting added that a “whole new leadership team” must be in place before extra funds are given.

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