More DMV politics

The battle is on in Richmond to restore funding to the DMV and reduce those ridiculously long lines prior to the upcoming campaign season. It’s going down to the wire to see who can make those embarrassing lines disappear while simultaneously getting credit for it.

On one side there’s Gov. Mark Warner who was forced to close all DMV offices on Wednesdays while shutting down some offices altogether in November due to budget restraints. He shocked the General Assembly’s GOP majority in January when he proposed reopening all DMVs by using cash the state will receive from a large legal settlement.

Now, with the legislative session reaching its half-way point, Republicans revealed this week that they have a plan to not only reopen those closed DMV offices, but to restore all its funding. This plan will be revealed this weekend when House Republicans begin preparing their version of the state budget.

Warner calls the GOP plan an election year ploy using “curious math” while Republican delegates recommend that Warner keep his nose out of the Appropriation Committee’s business until he sees the numbers himself.

Out in the real world, things are bad at the DMV. Trips to the DMV are seldom fun during normal times. These days, the layoffs, closings and shorter office hours have made getting a drivers license or renewing tags an ordeal.

Case in point: A local resident had an air compressor stolen from the back of his pickup truck at the Woodbridge DMV office earlier this week. The driver was obviously stuck in line waiting to do business inside. Air compressors aren’t cheap but you rarely see them stolen from a public place in broad daylight. That’s not the case at the DMV where frustrated drivers with glazed eyes wait hours on end for their ticket number to be called. With these long waits, we’re surprised the thief didn’t stick around to steal all four tires off the victims truck. Memo to lawmakers: When appropriating $17 million to restore DMV funding throw in a new air compressor, too.

Restoring money to the DMV shouldn’t be a political issue. Virginia residents regardless of political affiliation are required to obtain a driver’s license, plates and tags from the commonwealth. Cutting DMV to balance the budget ran the risk of public backlash and the upcoming election has politicians panicking.

Warner’s solution is a one-time fix while the Republicans are forced to find the money somewhere within the budget without raising taxes. This means taking money from somewhere else.

It makes us wonder what the priority is down in Richmond restoring DMV funding while balancing the budget or getting credit for it while avoiding blame for the initial problem.

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