Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White likes to boast that his office is one of the few state agencies that contributes to state coffers, instead of helping to deplete them.
His latest move would make even the most astute Wall Street businessman blush.
White’s office stopped sending license plate renewal notices in October because the office could not afford the $450,000 a month in postage for renewal notices without a 2016 budget in place.
The result? A whopping increase in the amount of late fees collected from Illinois motorists whose license plates expired. More than twice as many motorists have had to cough up the $20 late fee so far this year, compared to the same time frame last year.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
White’s office collected $5.24 million more this year than during the same time period last year in late fees for vehicle license plates. There were 476,551 late fees collected from drivers so far this year compared to 214,467 late fees through June 20, 2015.
The total collected so far this year is $9.53 million in late fees compared to $4.29 million for the same period last year.
In other words, by cutting back on services, White not only saved money, he made more! Oh my, what if this idea of trying to cut costs while our state is penniless catches on in Springfield?
But the motorists who get socked for an extra $20 are ticked. You can’t suddenly stop sending us the renewal notices about our plates, and then hit us with a late fee when we forget to renew, they argue.
Lawmakers, always eager to save the day, have rushed to co-sponsor legislation that would give motorists a 30-day grace period during which cops couldn’t ticket them for having expired stickers.
Do we really need a renewal notice in the mailbox to renew our license plates? Especially when you can sign up to get an email notice?
Maybe, maybe not. But this is part of what’s wrong in Springfield and in Washington. Politics is all about getting re-elected and staying in power — and thus keeping as many people happy as possible. Cutting government spending almost always riles up somebody — either the government workers or the people who use the government services.
So while White may have stumbled upon some savings and some new revenue, it probably won’t last. The real winners will be the politicians, who once again get to put their capes on and play hero.
As taxpayers and voters, we need to send our leaders a message: We’re tired of gimmicky heroics. We want responsible spending, constitutional and balanced budgets, a better job climate and an improved economy. We could you send a reminder, if you’d like, in November.