$28M PRICE TAG FOR LICENSE LAW
Illegal immigrants can drive legally come July 1
The governor’s budget predicts the state will spend $28 million implementing a new law that will allow illegal immigrants to obtain a license to drive.
But the Registry of Motor Vehicles will need an infusion of cash to pull it off by July 1 start date, Gov. Maura Healey’s budget states.
“In support of this new law, (the budget) adds $28 million in funding to expand service hours at select RMV locations, add new customer service representatives and road test examiners to support additional applicants, and bolster support staff to ensure records and credentials are properly vetted and processed,” a budget briefing released by Healey’s office reads, in part.
The Work and Family Mobility Act, passed into law by the Legislature in early June of 2022 over the veto of former Gov. Charlie Baker, will allow immigrants who cannot demonstrate their legal status to nevertheless use documentation from their home country to apply for and receive driver’s license.
Baker, after the law’s passage despite his protest, asked the Legislature to send the RMV $9.2 million to help implement the new law by this July.
Healey, in filing her budget for fiscal 2024, asks for more than three times that.
“This law represents a monumental step forward for safety and equity in the Commonwealth, ensuring that drivers on Massachusetts roadways have demonstrated their knowledge of driving laws and are able to access insurance coverage,” the budget summary reads. “New applicants will pay the standard transaction fees at the Registry bringing in additional revenue that will largely offset these implementation costs.”
After the law’s legislative passage, a group opposing the measure gathered the signatures required to ask voters whether to keep the measure or throw it out. About 53% of voters chose to uphold the new law, which had the backing of
several police organizations.
Advocates say Healey’s budget is a “critical investment that will make the state safer for all drivers.”
“Over time, these implementation costs will more
than be recouped and the Commonwealth will see increased revenues from license application and renewal fees. This law is critical to ensuring all qualified drivers, regardless of immigration status, follow
the same rules of the road,” Elizabeth Sweet, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, told the Herald in a written statement.
The law is due for implementation
by July 1.
That’s also when the budget is due, but it’s not often delivered on schedule. That means, more likely than not, the law will go into effect without the extra funding in place.