Debtor’s Prison and Texas Drivers
In order to balance the budget a few years ago the Texas Legislature instituted an oppresive and regressive tax scheme called the “Driver Responsibility Program“. The DRP issues “surcharges” (taxes) ranging from $200-$2000 for various traffic offenses.
So far, the program has taxed $900M, and collected ….$300M. Not paying the “surcharge” results in a driver’s license suspension. Driving without a license is a separate offense that can result in jail time (after 9/1/07 it can be a class C misdemeanor). In essence, we have created a new debtor’s prison for drivers.
Senator 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.
Mr. Ogden failure to grasp the obvious is typical for a politician. The “fines and fees” are taxes. If you collected them you would not be cutting taxes, merely shifting them. The “big problem” for state government is the failure to cut spending.
What Texas really needs is a “Government Spending Responsibility Program.” Instead we pimp out the criminal justice system to raise money.